SUVs prove their utility. (The Goodness of America).
To the chagrin of their critics, a cadre of SUV owners were instrumental in providing crucial transportation for health care workers and others during the huge snowstorm that blanketed the Washington, D.C., area in February. On February 18th, for instance, the Washington Times reported that "a volunteer army of SUV owners rolled through the area's snow-covered streets this week to help doctors and nurses reach their jobs" after "more than 20 area hospitals, nursing homes and hospices asked for help delivering essential staffers -- and in some cases patients -- as nearly 2 feet of snow made roads too slippery and clogged for most cars."
Dr. Richard Goldberg, vice president of medical affairs at D.C.'s Georgetown University Hospital (where 50 SUV owners volunteered), told the Times, "It's an amazing display of volunteerism." And Jackie Hubbard, a staffing assistant at Maryland's Prince George's Hospital Center, added, "I really can't believe the outpouring of the volunteers. We've had to turn people away." Hubbard told the Times that "about 30 drivers in sport utility vehicles gave rides to hospital staffers, and that roughly 100 more drivers called but were not needed. 'They could be doing a lot of things on a day like this,' she said. 'They could be next to the fire reading a good book or lying in their bed. I know that's what I'd be doing.'"
One SUV volunteer, Phil Heuschen of Arlington, Virginia, "started driving staffers and patients to [Virginia's] Inova Alexandria Hospital on Sunday at noon, went home at 2 a.m. and was on the road again ... at 9 a.m. He said the roughly 40 volunteer drivers developed a sense of camaraderie over the two days and reveled in each other's snow stories."
Another SUV Good Samaritan, D.C. resident Tony Snesko, told the Times that he was untroubled by the anti-SUV crusade. He and wife Valerie "spent Sunday delivering meals in their SUV to people dying of AIDS for the group Food and Friends.... 'I figured I needed to start doing what Scripture tells me to do, which is help people in need. Where would America be without SUVs in this mess?'"
The February 18th Baltimore Sun reported additional SUV rescue efforts. Staff writer Scott Shane's account began: "A half-dozen shiny big SUVs were lined up outside [Maryland's] St. Joseph Medical Center yesterday morning, their volunteer drivers proving to the world that they are nothing like the arrogant, self-centered, fuel-squandering ignoramuses of stereotype."
Jeff Hegberg of Parkville and Jack Fowler, a neighbor who served as navigator, "drove till after 10 p.m., stopping under bridges to scrape ice off windshield wipers, picking up and dropping off workers from downtown Baltimore to Stewartstown, Pa., and points between." Hegberg told Shane, "I actually enjoy doing it. It's the only way I can get out and play in the snow and not get in trouble with my wife."
A staffer at the University of Maryland Medical Center utilized his SUV to assure that he and other associates did not miss their hospital duties. Dr. Alan Jones, chief of trauma orthopedics at the medical center, "loaded his Ford Expedition with colleagues early yesterday, collecting Dr. Brian J. Browne, head of emergency medicine, in Green Spring Valley; a critical-care nurse in Cockeysville; and an anesthesiologist in Stoneleigh."
In another instance reported by the Sun, Charles DeBaufre used his Dodge pickup to enable the wife of a 94-year-old man who was near death at St. Joseph's to be with him during his last minutes. She had implored hospital workers to keep her husband alive until she arrived. "It feels pretty good to be able to do that," DeBaufre told the Sun.
And, finally, database analyst Mark Lundin "made his first pickup for St. Joseph at 5:30 a.m. in Oliver Beach in Eastern Baltimore County and burned a tank of gasoline ferrying workers for most of the day in his red Nissan Xterra. He found two service stations out of gas because trucks couldn't deliver." When even Lundin's SUV became stuck on two occasions, he simply "dug the Xterra out," then "drove on to collect the next hospital worker who was depending on him."
The vital assistance rendered by these and other SUV volunteers during the Great Storm of '03 stands as a potent antidote for venomous anti-SUV propaganda.