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Harvard fire implements fee for lift assists

Published: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 4:17 p.m. CDT • Updated: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013 11:16 p.m. CDT

HARVARD – Several times a week, the Harvard Fire Protection District gets a call from someone who’s sunken into a chair or fallen onto the floor and can’t get up.

It’s a simple solution, and it’s not exactly an emergency: Responders head over, help the man or woman to their feet and go along their way.

But the calls have gotten so frequent – some coming from the same individuals three or four times a week, Trustee Jim Carbonetti says – that the district has decided to implement a fee for excessive visits.

Starting in September, individuals will be charged $100 for every lift assist call after the third within a year of the first.

“For a once-in-a-while occurrence, we don’t mind,” Carbonetti said. “But when it’s three to four times a week, that’s becoming a little excessive. You probably need to be looking into some home health care.”

Carbonetti said that at $100 a hit, he doesn’t expect the new ordinance – passed unanimously by the fire protection board Tuesday night – to be much of a moneymaker.

Rather, he said, he hopes it will encourage people to make “other arrangements” so they don’t find themselves in need of assistance so often.

“It’s not a cheap proposition to roll out an ambulance all the time,” he said. Carbonetti added the measure wasn’t an original idea and said Harvard modeled its fee off one in Hebron.

But at least three other McHenry County departments reached Wednesday said they didn’t charge for lift assists.

McHenry Township Fire Protection District, Woodstock Fire/Rescue District and Crystal Lake Fire Rescue don’t currently have a fee in place.

“We have not considered that,” said Tony Huemann, fire chief in McHenry, adding that the station “occasionally” piles up calls from the same individuals.

“We try to get them help so that hopefully in the future they don’t keep having those problems,” he said.

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