“Strangely, I never actually considered working for Falck before a friend of mine called and told me they were looking for drivers,” recalls Najim. “But when I did, it made perfect sense.”
Before he joined Falck, Najim worked as a truck driver. He drove all kinds of trucks. The bigger, the better.
“I love big cars. Especially the big trucks. They fascinate me. I loved driving that big 60-ton truck around. And yes, I’m short, so there’s probably a bit of the ‘small man, big car’ about it too,” laughs Najim. “However, it began to bore me. Apart from the challenge of parking a 60-ton truck, every day was the same. Going from A to B. Loading and unloading.”
Luckily for Najim, Falck had just won a tender for patient transport in Denmark and was looking for drivers. A friend of Najim saw the notice and told Najim.
“All I needed was a commercial driving licence. And then it struck me, I was a firefighter! Why I never thought of Falck before, being a firefighter, I don’t know. But I was sure that if I joined Falck, new opportunities would follow – and they did,” recalls Najim.
From firefighter to roadside assistance technician
Next to his job as a truck driver, Najim had worked voluntarily as a part-time firefighter for the National Emergency Management Agency in Denmark. He had taken the training on weekends while driving a truck on weekdays. It was more than a full-time job.
“I’m not very good at sitting idle,” says Najim. “I like to develop my capabilities. The driving was getting dull. And I’m practical. I like to use my hands. But I’m also dyslexic. So, I had put off becoming a firefighter for fear of books until a training officer convinced me otherwise.”
Initially, Najim had planned to pursue a career within the fire department in Falck. But chance would otherwise.
“I ended up taking every course, I could get my hands on at Falck. From first aid to animal-handling and salvaging of large vehicles. In the end, I liked being a roadside assistance technician better. The variation is fantastic. There are no two days alike. And I love the direct customer contact when I help people. It’s very gratifying. It’s why I’m here,” says Najim.
Swans, hearses and accidents
Today, Najim is authorized to drive just about every vehicle in the Falck fleet. And he relishes in the fact that he never knows what the day will bring – accidents, false alarms, reptiles on the loose or tumbled down trees blocking roads.
“I might start the day in the service vehicle being dispatched to assist with tows or jump-starts. Next, a call comes in about a confused swan disrupting traffic. It happens a lot in the summertime around here,” tells Najim. “The funny thing is, people are very scared of swans. And they are big birds. Taller than me when they start hissing, standing up and flapping their wings. But once you know how to handle them, they’re quite gentle. It’s a fantastic experience.”
While many dispatches involve positive experiences with customers happy to see Najim arrive in his Falck uniform, driving the hearse can be a different story.
“Once, I was dispatched with the hearse to pick up a baby who had died from sudden infant death syndrome,” recalls Najim. “It was only 14 days old. It was horrible. I had just become a father myself. The parents were crying when we arrived, and I nearly broke down myself. The emotional impact was just too much. But I couldn’t. I had to be professional.”
Fortunately for Najim, his co-driver that day was a veteran ambulance driver.
“As soon as we were out of sight, he pulled over and told me to go for a walk. I just sat down and cried my eyes out. When I came back, he gave me a hug, and we carried on.”
To Najim, wearing the Falck uniform is special. It makes him stand out and gives him recognition. But it also comes with an obligation.
“The uniform means people recognize me, they´re always happy to see me. They trust the uniform. But they also expect a lot from us who wear it. If something happens, they expect us to fix it. Every time. We’re Falck, you know. And once you put on the uniform, it’s not just an obligation. It’s a commitment,” says Najim.
But it’s not only people and customers who expect a lot from Najim and his colleagues. With the uniform comes media exposure too.
“You have to be acutely aware of how you behave and carry yourself. Even under the most extreme and sensitive circumstances. The expectations of society are enormous. Fortunately, we receive a lot of training on how to handle ourselves in such situations. It becomes a professional role you intuitively step into the second the alarm goes.”
For Najim, the training and education at Falck have been a game-changer. Both professionally and personally.
“I was an action man when I came to Falck. And I’m still an action man,” says Najim. “But today, I act with a different mindset based on a knowledge I didn’t have before. My skillset is different. And I command a completely different authority that instils trust and a sense of safety in my surroundings.”