Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Chief Justice Roberts Won't Be Charged For His Ambulance Ride

Fosters.com reports:

Chief Justice John Roberts won't have to worry about the bill for the ambulance ride to a nearby hospital.

The volunteer St. George ambulance service is funded entirely by donations and fundraisers, staffed by volunteers _ and it's free.

"We don't charge people for rides," said Mike Smith, a contractor who serves as director of St. George Volunteer Ambulance Associates.

Smith was installing trim on a home when his pager went off Monday afternoon after Roberts suffered a seizure and took a tumble.

He said he was on the scene treating Roberts on Hupper Island about five minutes later after a short boat ride. "You clean up your hands a bit, and you go" is how Smith described the response to an emergency call.

Smith and another volunteer, Candice Davis, helped to get Roberts back to the mainland, where he was transferred to an ambulance.

"He was conscious and alert. That's all I'm allowed to say," Smith said.

Roberts was taken to the Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport, where he underwent tests and spent the night before being released less than 24 hours later. He was back in his island home by Tuesday afternoon.

Smith didn't seem to be flustered by his famous patient. "There's a lot of people here of stature," he said. They all get treated the same, he added.

The Port Clyde community is comprised of both year-round residents including fishermen as well as summer residents like Roberts. The harbor was filled Tuesday with motorboats and sailboats, as well as several commercial fishing boats.

Roberts, who bought his summer home from Steve Thomas, the former host of the "This Old House" television show, goes about his business with little fanfare.

"He's a regular guy," said Tom Armitage, a carpenter who has seen Roberts shopping at local stores and loading up his boat with provisions.

Hupper Island, which has about 20 seasonal homes, is about a half-mile from the mainland. Residents use private boats to get back and forth.

The ambulance service also utilizes private boats. There's no room in the budget for a dedicated boat for the ambulance service or volunteer fire department, so private boat owners step up to the plate in an emergency, said Town Manager John Falla.

While it's not fancy, the ambulance service gets the job done thanks to donations and fundraisers for equipment and training. Two weeks ago, they had a lobster bake at the Tenants Harbor Fire Station that drew about 800 people, Smith said.

An hour after treating Roberts, Smith was back at his job installing trim at his paying job for Harbor Builders, his employer.

"We're one of the last services in the state that don't bill," Smith said. "We're a dying breed, unfortunately."