It is a typical morning in the Portland metro area with buses, cars, bikes and pedestrians maneuvering the streets for their commute. A call comes over the radio from dispatch: “Doc, there’s a bird on the road and we need you to rescue it.”
A TriMet employee since 1986, Ron “Doc” Chambers has gone above and beyond the boundaries of his job description. In addition to being an outstanding bus operator, rail operator and trainer, he has been the call guy for all injured animals TriMet employees come across, both at home and on the job. Doc credits his childhood, which he spent in rural areas of England and Spain with very few veterinarians, for his passion for birds and other animals.
Doc has rescued animals for operators, supervisors, neighbors and even the Portland Police. He repaired the cracked shell of a turtle that got hit by a MAX train, got a hawk out from the rafters of a rail garage, and saved countless pigeons from the side of the road that empathetic bus operators called him about. Outside of TriMet calls, Doc mainly rescues parakeets, which he saves and keeps until he can find them ‘forever homes.’
In his first year as a TriMet operator, Doc was driving his bus through North Portland when a call came over the radio that a pigeon had been hit by a bus and no one knew how to help it. He got on the radio and said that if someone could deliver the pigeon to him, he could nurse her back to health. “The next day, I came back into work and my supervisor said, ‘Well, you’re just a regular Doc Chambers!’ The name stuck,” he says. He repaired the bird’s broken wing, cared for her punctured lung, and years later she died of old age with Doc and his wife at their home.
In the early 2000s, degenerating eyesight forced Doc to transition into a training role, but it hasn’t stopped him from saving animals. Just last week Doc found a dog wandering the storage yard at TriMet’s Ruby Junction facility. She was malnourished and had sores. Unable to care for her at home, Doc found fellow training supervisor David White to nurse her back to health. David and his family have since adopted her and named her Daisy.
Written by Maya Trachtenberg, TriMet summer intern
Maya Trachtenberg is an undergraduate from University of Washington, who grew up in Portland and on TriMet. She was a summer journalist for the Jewish Review newspaper, and had an internship doing writing and public relations for the Portland Fire Bureau. During her internship at TriMet, Maya interviewed transit riders and TriMet employees for internal and promotional publications.
Photo by Alysha Beck, TriMet summer intern
Alysha Beck is a photojournalism graduate from University of Oregon. She has interned for The Oregonian, YH! World (a London-based online magazine), and was a freelance photographer for Long Run Picture Company in Eugene, Oregon. As an intern for TriMet, Alysha took pictures and videos of riders, operators, and management for internal and promotional publications. Alysha is now a staff journalist at Coos Bay and Southern Oregon Coast’s newspaper, The World.