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Hefty fees for ambulance services

Friday, July 24, 1998

 DENTON, Texas (AP) -- The cost of illness just got higher for heavier folks in this town 30 miles north of Dallas.
 Anyone who weighs more than 300 pounds will have to fork over a $25 fee to ride in Denton ambulances; the trips are free to those who are slimmer.
 The city council approved the move Thursday with a 4-3 vote.
 Officials say the fee is necessary to cover the increased risk of injury to firefighters and paramedics who must carry overweight patients.
 Fire Chief Ross Chadwick said the fee will also help cover the cost of buying larger gurneys and other pieces of emergency equipment.
 "It's so darn petty, and it's embarrassing to me as a City Council member," said Councilman Mike Cochran, who voted against the measure. "It will bring in very little revenue for the city, and it's wrong to penalize someone for their weight."
 The city attorney is checking to make sure the new fee doesn't violate the Americans with Disabilities Act, which prohibits discrimination against anyone with a disability, Chadwick said.