Saturday, January 7, 2017

500 Miles

A reader asked via email why I am still working and what my job involves.

The first answer is the money comes in handy.

The job involves driving to three hospitals (sometimes four and meeting a driver from a different route for a transfer) and picking up medical specimens (blood, urine, feces, tissue) and packing them for shipment via air freight or direct delivery to other labs.

 Nothing about the job is particularly difficult or requires specialized training.  There is a lot of detail, mainly the proper transport (refrigerated packs, dry ice) and accountability. What might be termed “chain of custody”. Considerable molesting of electrons with tablets and scanners are used (my weakest skill set).

Mainly the job involves driving 500 miles in all weather conditions. Company policy is, if the highways are open, we go.

There are two of us assigned to this route. We are both old farts with decades of dealing with bad roads and mechanical problems. Neither of us are subject to “vapors”.

Starting around 0330, we leave Greeley, CO westbound to Interstate 25, then North to Wheatland, WY.

These are some camera feeds from various highway department cameras. These are live and best viewed during daylight hours.

This site has such high winds the cameras get blown out of position.

The first stop is Wheatland, WY. From there we go to Torrington, WY on US 26 via Guernsey and Ft. Laramie. This route is prone to thick fog. No camera coverage for this segment.

From Torrington we go East (directly into the rising sun) on US 26 to Scottsbluff, NE.

From Scottsbluff we head South on Hwy 71 via Kimball, NE to Colorado 
Hwy 14. Hwy 71 is four well maintained and plowed lanes to Kimball. After Kimball it is two lanes, no shoulders,  not plowed at night, and the Colorado section is poor overall condition.

At Hwy 14 we head West for nine miles and then turn South on Hwy 52 to Fort Morgan.

This camera site has one error. Hwy 52 runs North-South, not East-West as stated on the site.

From Kimball to Fort Morgan there is not one commercial establishment. Cell phone coverage is intermittent. There are numerous missile silos to remind you of what OldAFSarge calls, “Armageddon on demand”.

Some of the locals are not friendly.

An occasional annoyance are a string of Air Force Hummvee’s tooling along at 40 mph. Up armored with a weapon turret. Sometimes they have a machine gun mounted.

From Fort Morgan it is all four lane Interstate and toll roads to Denver International Airport (DIA) where most specimens are air freighted to the Mayo Lab in Rochester MN.

Leaving DIA we make our way northward to Greeley where we deliver the last of the specimens and inter hospital packages and mail. 

After  pickup of inter hospital mail and packages for delivery the next day, we return to base, finish paperwork, and clock out. Usually it is a 13 hour day without weather delays.

One positive of the job is no micromanagement. I check in with dispatch and check out. Days will go by without talking to anyone in management. We drive a Prius, which I dislike, but there is no skimping on maintenance, tires, and repairs.

I have hopes 2017 will bring to an end some long term problems I deal with and I can finally retire. For now, the job allows me to do things important to me and those who depend on me.
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