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Hanoi’s Motorcycle Rescue Team Saves Motorists From Nighttime Breakdowns

Ever wanted someone to rescue you when you get a flat tire on a dark, rainy night?

At 9pm every day, volunteers of Hanoi Motorcycle Rescue Team (or Traffic Rescue Organization on Facebook) gather at Khuat Duy Tien Street, ready to leap into action as soon they receive news of a stranded vehicle in the city.

Information about the person in trouble, vehicle type and location is relayed via phone calls or on the team’s Facebook group. Founded in 2016 with 20 people, it now consists of 50 core members, according to VnExpress.

“I, like everyone else in the team, have also experienced problems with my motorbike earlier. I felt sad seeing people push their bikes late at night. So people sharing the same thoughts got together and formed a team,” said Vu Van Tuan, a member of the managing board.

Dang Tu Le once panicked over a punctured tire around midnight, when a member showed up and made a call – she was astounded to hear his offer to repair it for free. “I insisted on paying, so he took VND10,000 (US$0.42),” she said.

According to Bao Giao Thong, by February this year, after 18 months of operation, the team had helped more than 1,000 bikers out of their predicaments. Its actions are deeply appreciated by locals, including Nguyen Hong Lien, who offered the members iced tea as thanks for their service in July, only to see them decline and leave immediately for another emergency.

“I have started thinking that life is meaningful, after seeing your beautiful actions. I wish you health, peace and good luck,” she wrote on Facebook.

Still, some people remain wary. Tho, who has been volunteering for two years, told the news source, “A few times on the road, I met people with their bikes broken down, but they refused my offer to help, afraid that they might be cheated, that I might ask for too much money.”

Their precaution is not without a reason, as vehicle support in Vietnam comes in all shapes and sizes, from towing businesses in flooded areas to locals pulling motorcyclists out of highways to avoid monitoring police. In the most denounced variation, locals scatter sharp objects on the highway, approach a vehicle whose tires are busted as a result, and charge its controller a price three to four times the usual service fee to have them fixed.

The rescue team itself also operates with foresight. Members are only allowed to work until 3am or 4am so as not to interfere with professional mechanics in the day, according to team member Giap Van Truong. Truong added that, in addition to motorbike repairing skills, new volunteers are also taught self-defense and first-aid techniques.

In each emergency, members must check the troubled person’s Facebook account for signs of danger. They can only go in teams of two or more and must ask controllers to bring vehicles to broad and sufficiently bright roads.

Truong has conducted hundreds of rescue operations. Gia Dinh Moi notes that, on one occasion, Truong was pushing a broken-down motorcycle when he was apprehended by the police. On another occasion, it was Truong who patched the punctured tires of a policeman’s bike.

As the team grows in size, “its members are present across Hanoi and divided according to districts, each with one captain,” Truong told Bao Giao Thong. He hopes the team will grow to cover the whole nation.

“We share among ourselves our experience in mechanics and ways to quickly help a person in distress at night. As on-site patching work means that we cannot have the usual basin of water, we have to bring a bottle of diluted dish soap as an alternative,” said Tuyen, another member, in Vietnamese.

Hang, a 26-year-old female volunteer, explained why she’s involved: “This is the life I want. With the team, I do not care about the money, absolutely. Helping people makes me happy.”

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