Wendy Koslowski has seen a lot on the roads during her 10 years as an equipment operator for the Ministry of Highways. The job often has her working early in the morning and driving in less than ideal conditions. It also takes her away from her family and special occasions like birthdays and holidays.
She doesn’t ask for sympathy though. She’s dedicated to the work because she believes in it. She wants to ensure people are safe. Her favourite parts of the job are being outside and being with her crew. “There’s so many jokesters in my crew. We laugh, we get along. We’re like a close family.”
Wendy’s family worries about her, especially in the winter time. They worry about the traffic, if someone isn’t paying attention or if her truck will get hit. Wendy says her family believes in her and the good she is doing. “I’ll risk it because it’s my family out on that highway. My friends out on that highway. I like to see them go home safe.”
When she has a bad day, the thing that brings her back to earth is her youngest daughter’s hug.
So what happens if you get injured at work and you can’t do the one thing you want most?
In early 2019, Wendy was plowing roads on Highway 11, just south of Duck Lake when a car hit her from behind. She hit her face on the steering wheel and then noticed her neck and shoulder began to hurt. An incident lasting only a few seconds would impact her life for months.
Wendy can’t do her job like she used to. She often needs help from her crew. “If it wasn’t for them, I likely wouldn’t be with the ministry anymore.” Wendy has problems moving her shoulder and neck. She still struggles to do the things she used to.
It’s not just her work life that has been impacted, it’s her home life too. Helping her husband on the farm has become a challenge. She used to play roughly with her kids. She used to skip and dance with them. Now she can’t.
What weighs on her daughter most is there’s a chance mom might not come home. Before the incident, her daughter used to ask “how was your day mom?” And now, she asks “did anything bad happen today?” Wendy says a little girl shouldn’t have to think about things like that.
Wendy’s priority now, is bringing awareness to highway safety. It’s not just a truck. There’s a person in there. “It opened my eyes even more when it happened to me,” Wendy said. “It’s important for other people to be safe and know what’s going on out there.” That’s why Wendy has chosen to share her story.
If you do have to pass a snow plow, the ministry encourages you to be aware. Pass with care.
Treat snow plows the same as you would any emergency vehicle. If they are pulled over and have their blue light flashing, slow to 60 km/h and pass with caution. If you are following a plow and their blue light is flashing, pass them when safe to do so. Snow plows do pull over every 10 - 15 km to let vehicles pass. The blue lights are on whenever the plow is engaged in winter activity. This can include surveillance, sanding, salting and plowing…
Be sure to check out the Highway Hotline before you start your travel. There you’ll find all the up to date information you need to be sure you get where you’re going, safely.
“Slow down, it’s not a race,” said Koslowski.