Fee proposal not out of line

A proposal to charge a $100 fee to Stockton Springs residents who summon an ambulance without a need for medical care or transportation to the hospital is a sound one.

The fee is not meant to discourage anyone with a medical issue from calling for help. Rather, the proposal targets those "frequent flyers" who regularly call for an ambulance in a non-emergency situation. Medical alert services, local senior programs, relatives and neighbors can offer an alternative to calling 911 for non-emergency assistance.

More and more Maine communities are establishing initiatives for our aging population — Aging Well in Waldo County and Neighbors Helping Neighbors: Seniors at Home in Stockton Springs are two local examples — and private senior services businesses are developing as well. As a result, resources are emerging for people who choose to age in place, including help getting up after a fall, commonly called a "lift assist."

Ambulance services are required to respond, regardless of the level of emergency. But when emergency personnel are providing a lift assist, it ties up the equipment and staff — neither of which is cost-free. Sometimes, another emergency call happens at the same time and another service has to respond, which costs the town even more money.

Those costs hit the town's Ambulance Service budget line and ultimately show up in property owners' taxes.

This issue is not unique to Stockton Springs. A number of communities have a similar fee structure in place, including Bangor, which adopted a policy for billing for non-emergency responses in July 2016.

Additionally, there are fees imposed for people who call 911 with questions or non-urgent issues, as well, with the first charged offense costing $500, according to Maine Emergency Services Communication Bureau. Additional offenses are a class E crime.

According to maine911.com, "a person should only call 911 when there is an emergency that requires immediate action to save a life, to report a fire, or to stop a crime."

We think it is fair to say car accidents — while a life may not be in imminent danger — also qualify as emergencies.

Anyone experiencing a medical emergency should always call 911.


Keep him there

The serial sex offender on page 1 of this newspaper has a disturbing history of repeated assaults — so disturbing that we cannot, as a community publication read by all ages, paint a completely accurate picture of his crimes.

Descriptions of Glenn Reed's seemingly compulsive actions contained in court documents are enough to make one's skin crawl.

Yet, as we've pointed out in past editorials about the man, he continues to offend, despite being sentenced to jail time repeatedly for his crimes. It seems the moment he's released, he immediately finds another victim.

The most recent assaults happened shortly after Reed's sentence for the rape of an 11-year-old was reduced and he was released.

But as far as we can tell, when he is in prison, he has not committed sexual crimes. Now is the time to keep him there.