What's It Like Being A
Fawn Rescue Driver?
— Bob Stinson
When I was asked by Carole to write a short article on this
topic, I was initially stumped. I had never really thought about it.
Each rescue call-out is different and often presents unique challenges. While on a run I often remind myself that I have two jobs. Of course I have the primary obligation of "rescuing" the fawn. However, of equal importance, I am an "ambassador" for Wildlife Fawn Rescue (WFR). Drivers should strive to present a good image. Our professional approach and demeanor helps maintain the excellent reputation of WFR held by the public, government agencies, veterinarians and fellow rehabbers.
Each call has the potential of gaining us a lifetime supporter or a volunteer team member. These opportunities to educate the public are critical to WFR's ongoing success. No matter how frustrated I become at the senseless, selfish or naïve but well-meaning actions of the public, I strive to remain professional and refrain from chewing someone out for their unethical or even illegal actions. In the long run, this is to the fawn's benefit.
Additionally, I am always learning. I have been fortunate to work closely with Marj and Carole. Both are amazing and patient teachers. Even in my third year of driving I am impressed at how much I still don't know.
So… What does it take to be a driver? Well, in a nutshell, consider these points:
Availability – Obviously, a driver must commit time and be ready to roll when "on call". Some drivers commit to working one or more days a week county-wide while others prefer to cover a smaller area of the county on a more consistent basis. WFR operates during daylight hours. The fawn season generally runs from late March through September. Having a truck with a camper shell or an SUV is a major "plus".
Preparedness – A driver will find it helpful to be dressed appropriately and have his/her equipment pre-loaded. Jeans or tough pants, a long-sleeved shirt, and good hiking shoes are the suggested "uniform". (Several years ago I learned the hard way not to wear shorts on a hot day – I got scratched badly in a berry thicket!) A mono-color shirt makes it easier to find any small "hitchhikers".
Gloves are convenient as is a sun hat. It would be difficult to function without a blue-tooth earpiece and cell phone.
A sense of adventure – All calls are unique and present learning experiences.
Inner-strength – Not all calls have a happy ending. Drivers will likely come across badly injured fawns and some will not survive. The fawn may require euthanasia by a vet. A driver will often bring home fleas and ticks. However, the hardest thing for me was hearing the piercing cry of a badly injured fawn – it is something that few will ever forget. The frequent calls with successful endings make it all worthwhile.
Willingness to Follow WFR policy - This may seem trivial, but in order to follow policy you must do some reading and learn from those more experienced. We operate under authority granted by the California Department of Fish and Game. Deviations from policy could result in WFR being out of compliance with the Memorandum of Understanding and we could lose our ability to rescue these precious fawns. There are written instructions for drivers and other team members. There are reasons for our protocols and taking shortcuts or violating procedure is counterproductive.
For me, being a driver for Wildlife Fawn Rescue has been a rewarding experience. I enjoy meeting people and working with dedicated team members towards the common goal of protecting our beautiful black-tailed fawns. WFR could use more volunteer drivers and I encourage those interested to apply. I would also be happy to personally answer any questions. Just leave a message at the main Wildlife Fawn Rescue number and I'll call you back. Carole can provide you a more detailed document, "Procedures for Drivers", which will clarify Drivers' responsibilities.
Think about it! We could use a few good road warriors.