Dingus Milktoast wrote:
But then again I am ok if my fellow citizens want to foot the bill. However, I am of the opinion that the contraction of governmental services in the US will continue for some years to come. Increasingly budgets are going to be trimmed, services examined.
To point - an article in the local paper today about local fire departments now billing those who cause accidents for their on-scene services. Not billing for ambulance services, but the actual accident site services - $400 for a Pumper truck, $25 to put traffic cones out.
While shrinking budgets may fuel a trend toward imposing charges for emergency services on individuals who cause the emergency, I think the trend will be narrow in scope and location such as in your fire department example above.
Ironically, I think that decreasing government dollars will actually work to keep the current system of not charging for search and rescue services in place in most jurisdictions. Under the prevailing system, rescuer discretion is a fundamental part of the institution of SAR. Thus, rescuers are free to use their judgment whether to initiate rescue, services to render, how to implement rescue, etc., without much consideration of legal consequences. The fear is that charging for services will create a legal duty to rescue
and thus greatly diminish the broad discretion rescuers now exercise causing them to take risks they otherwise might not have taken and exposing them to expensive lawsuits.
I haven't done a comprehensive survey, but some states that have statutes allowing individuals to be charged for rescue services dictate narrow circumstances such as knowingly entering a "closed area" (California, Idaho) or intentionally disregarding a "warning or notice" (Hawaii). The broadest ones that I've heard of are an Oregon statute subjecting individuals to rescue charges if they failed to exercise "reasonable care" or if the persons involved violated a law, and a New Hampshire law targeting those who "recklessly or intentionally create situations requiring an emergency response."