Commissioners stung by $2,514 rescue bill

Posted Aug. 04, 2009, at 9:52 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:12 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — If Tom Lizotte had his way, a 15-year-old Massachusetts girl stricken by a severe allergic reaction to a bee sting while hiking the Appalachian Trail last month would pay a $2,514 bill for her rescue.

Lizotte was sympathetic to the girl’s plight, but was feeling rather stung himself, he told his fellow Piscataquis County commissioners during a meeting Tuesday.

The Milo Fire Department, Lizotte said, is among several rescue services that occasionally send the commissioners bills for rescues performed in Gulf Hagas and other remote areas in the county.

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“Our contention is that we can’t pay that bill because the responsibility for rescues lies with the Maine Warden Service,” Lizotte said. “This happens every once in a while in the Gulf Hagas area.”

The girl, whose name was withheld because of her age, was near Gulf Hagas in Township 6 Range 9 on July 27 when she was stung by at least one bee while going from Gulf Hagas Trail to the Appalachian Trail, Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife spokeswoman Deborah Turcotte has said.

The girl immediately broke into hives, began fading in and out of consciousness and was unable to walk, Turcotte said. Her friends gave the hiker Benadryl, an injection of epinephrine and then more Benadryl, but she failed to fully recover.

The wardens and emergency rescuers from the Brownville and Milo fire departments battled rough terrain, golf ball-size hail, heavy rain and knee-deep water for more than three hours before getting the girl to an ambulance for a ride to Mayo Regional Hospital in Dover-Foxcroft, Turcotte said.

The girl was treated and then released.

The state, not the county, administers the trail area, commissioners said, but the bill gets sent to the county commissioners, possibly because they oversee the county radio dispatch service that handles the calls.

Yet the state doesn’t pay the bills, Lizotte said. Commissioners opted to reject the bill.

The wardens are a service within the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife. Turcotte was on vacation Tuesday and could not be reached for comment. Inland Fisheries officials referred comment on the matter to Lt. Pat Dorian, who oversees the wardens. He did not return a message left Tuesday.

Calls to the Milo Fire Department were not returned Tuesday.

Billing those rescued for the service wouldn’t be that unusual, Commissioner Fred Trask said. He recalled a White Mountains rescue that cost the person rescued about $25,000.

“I personally would send the bill to the person,” Lizotte said. He called the incident “the most expensive bee sting in Piscataquis County.”

nsambides@bangordailynews.net

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