Fuel call button offers helping hand to disabled motorists

COLUMBIA CITY — Approximately one in six Americans lives with some sort of disability.Often those disabilities impact the individual in ways that non-disabled don’t even think about.Like getting gas.A task most people take for granted and usually accomplish in less than five minutes can take a disabled person 30 minutes to do.With full-service filling stations few and far between, there is a program that provides assistance for disabled motorists.At some stations, at the owner’s choice, fuel call buttons are installed. Disabled patrons can push the button and an employee of the store will come out and pump the gas for them.In Whitley County, County Line Travel Plaza, located on U.S. 30 at 800 East has installed fuel call buttons on two of its pumps, and may be the only station in the county that offers this service.The call system features a big blue button that can be reached from inside a vehicle. “If a (disabled or elderly) customer pulls up to station five or six, there is a blue button on a black transit, just hit the button, which rings a bell inside and my employees will go pump the fuel for them,” County Line Travel Plaza store owner Jim Field said. When asked if a customer must have a disabled sticker displayed on their vehicle, Field replied “Technically, yes, but we have only had five people in the last three years use the service, people don’t see them (fuel call buttons).”More than just the disabled benefit from the fuel call assist option, ranging from seniors, women who are widowed and have never pumped gasoline before, and those who have arthritis in their hands and cannot remove the fuel cap.Field’s station is open 24 hours a day and the fuel call says closing is at 10 p.m., but Field says he doesn’t hold customers to that time because employees pump the fuel.Field said his employees will also assist disabled customers with purchasing items from the convenience store.“If they (disabled/elderly customers) want something inside the station, (employees) will get it.”