Tow truck drivers among those on the front line of the drug epidemic

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CORBIN, Ky. (WYMT) We think of first responders like police and firefighters as the people who are on the front lines of the drug epidemic, but they are not the only ones. The towing industry faces the danger of deadly drugs like fentanyl, or the possibility of getting pricked by a needle, almost every day.

“The main thing was to not get hurt going around the vehicle,” said Daniel Wallen, with Wallen’s Towing. “Now we have to worry about what's in the vehicle that's going to hurt us, is it going to be the needles, is it going to be loaded firearms?”

Wallen’s Towing has been one of the big towing businesses in Corbin for the past 85 years. In those years, Daniel Wallen and his dad have seen all sorts of cars for external damage, but lately, it’s been what is on the inside of the cars that have been a problem.

“All the new drugs that's on the market that can stop your heart in just the blink of an eye,” said Wallen. “All that stuff we worry about and concentrate on.”

As more deadly drugs appeared in circulation over the years, Wallen has had to change how he runs his business. All the company cars have gloves and cleaning alcohol that workers need to wear when they arrive at any automotive incident.

“100% of the police officers we deal with will tell us ‘Hey watch the car, there are needles in it’ or ‘Somebody's been bleeding in it,’ everybody is always on their toes,” said Wallen.

Wallen has worked in this business since he was a kid, it is something he is incredibly passionate about. He worries though about the uncertainty of its future.

“All I can say is if it doesn't change now with the way we're dealing with things, it's not going to be pretty,” said Wallen.

Workers say it has gotten to the point where they have considered buying Narcan just to be on the safe side. As of now, they have not bought any.

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