We’ve all been there. We went out for what was only a few drinks and as it turned out, we ended up having way too many to drive home safely.
I know what many of your are thinking; things like “I drive so slow after a drink I couldn’t possibly get into an accident”, “I pay more attention when I know I’ve been drinking” or even the timeless classic “I’m a better driver when I’m drunk”.
I’ve been there, and honestly, I’ve had my share of close calls. But imagine if you ran into a driver who isn’t a “better” or “safer” driver when he’s drunk; you can be sure your night is going downhill in a hurry or worse, you could end up in the hospital, as I know some of my friends have.
Then along comes Lifeline to the rescue. We know these guys as one of the best equipped ambulance and EMT service in Metro Manila, but now they’ve got something new: a drunk driver-on-call service for those who can’t safely drive home.
It’s simple. If you feel like you’re getting a bit too tipsy to take the wheel, dial 16911 (for Smart and PLDT users) or 09175216911 (for Globe subscribers), tell them your name, where you’re at, where you’re going and a driver will promptly arrive to take you home… in your own car.
The program was really the brainchild of our good friend James Deakin, editor-in-chief of C! Magazine, who approached Lifeline Ambulance Rescue to set up a potentially life-saving Driver on Call service.
“You know the scene. You’re out at a bar, a friend’s place, wherever. Everyone’s buzzed,” said Deakin. “But the manly thing to do is to get up, act straight, and pick out someone that looks worse than you and say, ‘Pare, ok ka lang?’”
The scenario sound familiar? And so he went about organizing the best thing for drinkers and partygoers since light beer and sisig: a way to get home safely… without leaving our cars behind.
James, myself and a couple other guys, all of us beer ‘enthusiasts’ of note, agreed to meet at Beso in Bonifacio High Street to put the new service to the test. In the interest of good research, we drank the way we normally would… in quick succession.
I honestly wanted to test out Lifeline’s response time without telling them that James was there with us (he himself was keen to honestly find out what they’d be like to other clients), so I gave them a call saying that I needed a driver, told them where I was, where home is and what car I was driving. After hanging up and well into another mug of beer, two blue-clad Lifeline EMTs promptly arrived in just 18 minutes… it took me longer to find a parking spot that night in High Street than for these guys to get here from Salcedo Village. Impressive. When we stepped outside, there it was, Lifeline’s red Chevy Spark that was going to tail my car all the way home.
At first I was a bit apprehensive about handing over the keys to my car; and that’s the big challenge, really. Admitting you’re too inebriated to actually take the wheel of your pride and joy is the hardest part. I know how you feel, but if we can depend on these guys to rescue us from life threatening situations (and that includes extricating drunk drivers trapped in the car after a crash), handing over the keys is much easier. And far cheaper. Pretty soon I was back home, getting some rest and pondering the experience. Some would think that this is a safety net, and it really is. And Lifeline’s Driver On Call service isn’t just about getting you home when you’re drunk. You could have high blood pressure, be suffering from a painful sprain, drank medicines that are making you too drowsy or perhaps your mind isn’t right after your significant other just broke if off with you, anything really. They might even give you a tissue for the last one.
Setting up the car and the service was a challenge, but James went about gathering support from many of our industry friends to keep the price down. Many companies pledged support like Bridgestone for tires, Rota for the wheels, Garmin for navigation devices (so they know where they’re going), a yet unnamed oil company for fuel support and a car company that will donate another car for the program.
For this service, they’re just charging PhP 500 for them to go to where you are, drive you home and then head back. The fuel costs alone and the fact that they sometimes end up sending a full size Ford E350 Ambulance as the ‘chase car’ would immediately render the business case pointless, but it’s not about the money.
It’s about saving lives. Oh, and your car too.
If you need a driver at the ready, just dial 16911 (Smart, PLDT), 0917-5216911 (Globe) or 02-8392520 to 30. Ask for Driver On Call, tell them where you are and where you’re going. I’ve got it on my speed dial now. Just in case.
Thanks to Ardie Lopez for the photos. They were, of course, staged.