Batavia considers charging care facilities for lift assists when people fall

Updated 2/14/2020 7:20 PM

The Batavia Fire Department is asking the city council to adopt an ordinance allowing it to charge senior communities and assisted-care facilities for helping uninjured people who fall and can't get up.

The committee of the whole unanimously supported the proposal and sent it to the council for a vote.


Fire Chief Randy Deicke said about one-third of lift-assistance calls the department receives are from assisted-care facilities.

When firefighters arrive, a staff member often is waiting for them rather than assisting the resident who has fallen, Deicke said.

When firefighters assist in the lift, he said, "the liability goes to the city."

Deicke proposed the department charge facilities $250 for each call to alleviate that liability. If a firefighter is injured while assisting someone, the responsibility to the city could include time off due to injury, overtime and workers' compensation.

The assists, which take about 20 minutes each, remove a fire unit from service, Deicke said. He usually will send an engine, with three responders, because he doesn't want to take an ambulance out of service.

If a unit is on the scene when another call comes in, firefighters will complete the assist. If a fire call comes in while the unit is on the way, the firefighters will break off and respond to that call.

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There has been "a steadily growing number of lift assists" over the past three years, according to the city. The fire department assisted in 232 total lifts in 2017, 247 in 2018 and 324 in 2019. Lift assists at care facilities increased from 72 to 135 during that time.

The plan is to charge only staffed facilities, not care communities that have just one worker at the front desk, Deicke said.

He said the department is sympathetic to people who need assistance in their home, and there is no plan to charge for lift assists at private residences.

"We don't want to make it any harder on them," he said.

Deicke said Tri-City Ambulance also began charging staffed facilities $250 for lift assists recently and he believes Geneva and St. Charles will be charging that same amount soon.

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