Valley fire department rescues man, then sends bill

Posted: Updated:
By Jim Carr By Jim Carr

PHOENIX – Dan Andersen says he's happy to be alive following a brutal accident last month.

"Basically, it was like a cheese grader that came in and took the skin right off," Dan says as he shows 3 On Your Side his injured stomach.

Dan suffered the injury, along with a broken sternum and broken pelvis after crashing his car on August 23. 

The collision happened as he drove down a Queen Creek road, lost control and wound up t-Boning a fire hydrant.

"Well, I was in a daze for a brief period of time and you know just trying to figure out where I was."

Dan was trapped inside his mangled car and Rural Metro Fire Department responded.

To get him out, they used the Jaws of Life to cut open his door and pulled him to safety.

"It was stressful because every movement hurt." But what hurts now, a month later, isn't his rehabilitation. It's a bill he got from Rural Metro Fire Department demanding $1,500.

The bill says "Power Tool Extrication." In other words, they want to be paid for cutting Dan out.

"I'm not a wealthy guy. I live paycheck to paycheck just like everyone else and so having a $1,500 bill show up for extrication from a vehicle hurts," Dan says.

Here's the problem. Rural Metro Fire Department is not supported by taxes.

They're funded by subscriptions and Dan never subscribed or paid their annual fee.

So when his car crashed in Rural Metro's response area, someone has to foot the bill for cutting Dan out.

Although his car insurance and his medical insurance paid for everything related to the crash, the two companies won't pay for that $1,500 Jaws of Life bill.

"I have insurance. I pay for it and in the end this isn't part of their coverage on either side." Dan says.

His car insurance tells 3 On Your Side they would have paid the Jaws of Life bill if Dan had medical coverage included in his policy. However, he doesn't.

3 On Your Side contacted Dan's health insurance and spoke to an Aetna spokesperson. I wanted to know if there was some way Aetna would cover the $1,500 bill.

As of now, Aetna is still reviewing the case. However, an Aetna spokesperson told me the issue has left the insurance company scratching their heads because they have never been confronted with a bill from a fire department.

3 On Your Side will air an update when Aetna reaches a decision.