In the summer of 1980 in America, country music singer, Willie Nelson hit the airwaves with his top-tapping song – On the Road Again, becoming one of his most recognised songs. The song about life on the road struck a chord with country music fan and truck driver, Micky Prendergast who would often haul freight and produce from Los Angeles to New York.
Micky spent more than 10 years trucking in America and owning his own business hauling cars before returning to his homeland of New Zealand. He joined Mobile Health in 2016 as a Steerologist (aka driver) and as the ‘newbie’ he had to quickly learn a different aspect of truck driving.
“I am not gadget friendly so when I first started, I was blown away by the amount of technical stuff onboard. There was a lot to take in, especially with the daily running of the onboard systems,” Micky says.
Micky’s morning usually starts a little later than the clinical team as he is the last to finish at night. “I usually walk to the surgical unit and have breakfast en route. Once arrived, there’s a few regular checks, such as gases, checking tyres, and ensuring all is in order on board. After checking with the clinical nurse leader if there’s anything needed, I head off to the grocery store – then back to prepare lunch for everyone. A team favourite seems to be chicken rolls with a good salad. Although we’re also fond of sushi and savouries,” he says.
It’s apparent that Micky’s role goes beyond a Steerologist. He has also become known as ‘Mr fix it’ – responsible for air quality in the theatre room, maintaining gas supplies, and many other odd jobs that are required. “Once a week the surgical unit also needs to be washed, greased, the water filter to be washed out and air filters to clean.”
Truck drivers are known to make great personal sacrifice and often devote their life, in some way or another to life on the road. Micky is certainly a true testament to this. “I love driving, and I’m lucky that I usually don’t get wary or tired. But on the odd occasion if I feel my concentration is not 100 percent, I find that a walk, or an ice-cream does the trick….and a little country music of course.”
To be a successful driver, Micky believes it’s important to possess the following skills:
- Patience, a truckload of it
- Excellent at listening to advice
- Observation, treat every other vehicle as though something might go wrong
- The ability to stay calm when things go wrong
- Learn and respect the vehicle you are operating
- Check, check, and double check before closing the surgical unit walls!
After six years of driving to 25 rural locations on a five-week cycle throughout New Zealand, the Mobile Health team is sad to say farewell to Micky who has plans to continue to work as a sole trader, contracting himself to companies in need of drivers. “I have enjoyed my experience working at Mobile Health. I have a lot of respect for the way the organisation is run and the way all staff are treated. I love the team atmosphere and I’m sure I will remain friends with everyone I have met. I wish Mobile Health and all staff the best for the future.”