A garbage truck with a mechanism to retrieve trash on its own is used widely in other areas but is fairly new around here.
The yellow arm that reaches out and grabs garbage cans may seem like the trash collection wave of the future, County Waste has used them for about 20 years. The company only just started using them in our area.
"Efficiency was one of the reasons, but another priority was safety. I mean, we haven't had an incident in 20 years since we started using the trucks," said County Waste Vice President Tony Puorro.
Recent incidents remind Puorro why the company uses the automatic trucks.
On Saturday, a Scranton DPW worker was critically injured collecting garbage when hit by a driver who fled the scene. A sanitation worker was killed Wednesday morning in Williamsport after being hit by an SUV.
County Waste's automatic trucks are pricey and work best in suburbs, but Puorro said they're a surefire way to keep workers safe by keeping them inside the truck.
"I'm actually surprised that we had to introduce it to the area. I really am. You're right, money is tight. But, you know what, spending that extra money to keep our employees safe is a no-brainer for our company," he added.
The events of the past week had a certain significance to a man from Susquehanna County. He remembered when he was injured and a coworker was killed while working on a garbage truck about 20 years ago in Clarks Summit.
"It was July 6. We had stopped at Joey Loughney's mother's house. I do believe Joey had an ice pop, our driver had a soda and I had a soda and fifteen minutes later it was done," said Dave Ingerson, who used to work for Clarks Summit borough's sanitation department.
On the day in 1994, Ingerson was working on the back of a garbage truck when it was hit by a car and toppled over, killing fellow worker Joseph Loughney.
Ingerson was reminded of that time twice over the past several days. He thinks garbage collection crews should have a lookout vehicle similar to ones used by PennDOT.
"Even on the construction on the highway, I mean they have a buffer, they always have a buffer, so they need that and in the city it wouldn't be so bad," Ingerson said.