Lifeguard John Clark Saves Boy, Is Hit With $2,600 Hospital Bill

lifeguard john clark saves boy hospital bill

AOL Jobs/AP -- A lifeguard from Vancouver, Wash., who rescued a 12-year-old in the surf at Rockaway Beach near Tillamook, Ore., was billed nearly $2,600.

Seventeen-year-old John Clark is a lifeguard this summer at a community center in Vancouver, but he was at the Oregon beach last month when he heard screams for help. He dived through breakers and heavy swells to keep the boy afloat until personal watercraft arrived and pulled them to shore.

"I don't know exactly how big the swells were," KOIN reports Clark as saying. "But they were big enough to push both of us underwater -- all the way down to where we were touching sand."

Both swimmers were pulled to shore by Jet Skis. Clark had a headache so he went with the boy in an ambulance to Tillamook General Hospital.

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Clark thought the ambulance ride was standard procedure until several weeks later when a bill arrived: about $450 for the emergency room, $230 for the doctor bill and $1,900 for the 15-mile ambulance ride.

"I had a feeling there would be a bill," Clark said, adding that he didn't know how much it would be.

"I kind of feel bad for the fact that it's so expensive," he said. "But I couldn't just let the kid go -- I had to do something."

Last month, a lifeguard in Florida was fired after saving a man outside his coverage area. Tomas Lopez, 21, was offered his job back, but he declined, telling ABC News that the only reason he was offered his job back was because he took his story to the media.

"If I never said anything," Lopez said, "they never would have acted."

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Josiah Einwechter

I am kind of confused by the prices as around here the ER would be $1,900 and the standard ambulance fee would be $450 plus probably that $230 for mileage.

March 23 2015 at 9:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

who is technically liable? the facility if there are lifeguards in place (such as a public pool?) if there is a near drowning that requires an ambulance ride ? ... 1900 sounds like the going rate after insurance and negotiated rates. *sigh*

August 09 2012 at 1:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

All these comments make me realise how lucky I am to be British and have the National Health Service. I feel for you guys.

August 08 2012 at 11:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about the 12 year old's parents?? Shouldn't they pay the bill or at least half of the ambulance ride fee??

August 07 2012 at 11:05 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The slacker parents should pay it for him.

August 06 2012 at 5:27 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Frustrated Paramedic

As a Paramedic who works on an ambulance I woud have to agree that the cost for treatment and transport is ridiculous!! But think about i for just a minute......the reason the fees are so high is because the individuals who are on welfare and the "frequent flyers" who call almost daily raise the cost due to their non-payment. When they do not pat the money is then passed on to those of us who have higher cost in all aspects of daily living. It's what we in the biz call "the gold card members" that get free rides because we as taxpayers get to pay their bill and ours. Just because the bill was $1900 doesn't mean that's what he has to pay. We, as all medical field aspects, are allowed to bill a large amount but rarely collect 10% of the the bill!

August 05 2012 at 11:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Frustrated Paramedic's comment

untrue...if you don't have insurance they won't transport...they will have you ask a relative take you...I know this from personal experience.

August 07 2012 at 12:20 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to kitten's comment

Sorry, Kitten, but you're dead wrong. I've been a paramedic since 1977, and have hauled more patients than months you've been alive. We cannot - by law in almost every state - refuse to take anyone to the nearest appropriate medical facility upon request. And most of the time we wouldn't anyway because of the liability we'd incur if we failed to transport and something - anything, no matter how seemingly disconnected - should happen to be wrong with that patient. Hugely frustrating because of those "frequent flyers" Frustrated mentions, who decide at 3 a.m. that their painful toenail just "has to be seen right this instant" by a doctor. After neglecting everything else abou their health for months or years. Like so many other members of this "entitlement" society, they are convinced that they have the government-given right to a ride in an ambulance that they treat like a taxi.
All that said, my company would never have billed this teenage hero for his ride. Heroes get a pass - always.....even if it bites us in the wallet.

August 07 2012 at 5:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down

One would expect that expenses incurred during an employment related event would be covered; would his employer have paid his legal bills had he been sued for non-performance??

August 05 2012 at 3:21 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

Let's Protest this absurd overcharging by the medical industry by going to CHIC FIL-A! Not open on Sunday!

August 05 2012 at 12:02 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

its all about the money til one of yours is gone. Loose the greed already. Ambulance, fire and police should be fed funded for the protection of its citizens. Greedy politicians think that the tax money is their personal asset. This gotta stop this Nov. Time for change. VOTE OUT ALL THE ROTTEN ONES.

August 05 2012 at 11:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Although the cost seems high. I for one am glad that we have ambulances around when we need them. Your money or your life? What's most important to you? If he had been on public assistance. It wouldn't have cost him a nickle. That's the real crime.

August 05 2012 at 10:56 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to unknownorign's comment

what a load of crap ! of course, you are happy to have an ambulance handy if you need one, everyone but the mentally unstable would be, but $1900 for an ambulance ride is obscene. plus I am sure the kid that was drowning got billed as well !! If i were a resident of Vancouver, WA, I would be finding out if it was a private ambulance, or taxpayer supported. If it is taxpayer supported i would demand that the support stop ! If they are charging that much, they dont need taxpayer money ! I dont need to hear from the volunteer fire community about this, we have a volunteer fire department here and they get, local, county and state money every year, not to mention donations.

August 05 2012 at 11:52 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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