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Roberts Won't Be Billed for Ambulance

By JERRY HARKAVY
The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 31, 2007; 4:18 PM

ST. GEORGE, Maine -- Chief Justice John Roberts won't have to worry about the bill for the ambulance ride after he suffered a seizure and fell at his island vacation home.

It's not special treatment; nobody pays for the ambulance service in St. George. It's funded by donations and staffed by volunteers, said Mike Smith, a contractor who is also the director of St. George Volunteer Ambulance Associates.

Smith said was installing trim on a house when he got a page that Roberts fell. He was treating the chief justice five minutes later after a boat ride to Hupper Island _ alternately known by some as Hooper Island.

"You clean up your hands a bit, and you go" is how Smith described the response to an emergency call. "There's a lot of people here of stature," and they all get treated the same, he said.

Smith and three other volunteers, helped get Roberts back to the mainland, less than a half mile away, where he was transferred to an ambulance for the 20-mile ride to the Penobscot Bay Medical Center in Rockport.

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

Roberts underwent tests and spent the night at the hospital before being released less than 24 hours later. He was back in his home by Tuesday afternoon.

Roberts bought his summer home from Steve Thomas, the former host of the "This Old House" television show.

The Port Clyde community is made up of year-round residents including fishermen and summer residents like Roberts. Hupper Island has about 20 seasonal homes and residents use private boats to get back and forth.

St. George's is the only ambulance service in Knox County that still operates without town money or fees assessed to patients. A typical ambulance ride in neighboring towns costs $300 to $350, said town manager John Falla.

© 2007 The Associated Press