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Currently eighty two percent of the Los Angeles fire department's calls are medical, rather than fire-related, and many of the calls are non-emergency medical issues such as the flu and colds, signaling a crisis in the area's health care provisions. The documentary Firestorm exposes this national shift in health care from traditional doctor's offices to firefighting stations around the country, using Los Angeles as an example.

In 2008 the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) issued a report on the state of emergency medicine. Overall the country earned a C-. California earned a D+. Across the country, every minute an ambulance gets turned away from an emergency room because hospitals are simply too full. Firestorm illuminates the systemic problems in emergency medical crisis through an in-depth report on Fire Station 65 in Watts.

All L.A. firefighters are trained paramedics and respond to more than 500 calls per day, many of which are non-emergent. Station 65 serves a predominantly minority, immigrant population, and has become the de-facto safety net for the city's poor, uninsured and under-insured residents. These firefights and residents face systemic problems in emergency medical services (EMS), from ambulance diversions (when emergency rooms are so crowded they close); to ER boarding (keeping admitted ER patients in the ER because of a lack of inpatient beds) and who, as a last resort, depend on Station 65 for many of their health care needs.

[Original air date: Sun, May 16, 2010]

This program is not currently scheduled for broadcast.

Filmmaker Profiles:

Julie Winokur

Learn more about Julie Winokur, the filmmaker of Firestorm.


Firestorm: Crew & Credits

Directed and produced by
Julie Winokur

Julie Winokur and Ed Kashi

Stela Georgieva

Associate Producer
Carol DeVoe

Carol DeVoe
Elissa Mummolo
Marshall Leaman
Shaun Kennedy

Production Assistant
Lauren Rosenfeld

Additional Editing
Laurie MacMillan

Additional Camera
Marshall Leaman
Lauren Rosenfeld

Production Support
Kristin Reimer

Music courtesy of
Pump Audio

Made possible by the generous support of
The Nathan Cummings Foundation
The Fledging Fund
Maurice Falk Fund
Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation
Ben & Jerry's Foundation
Lucius & Eva Eastman Fund

Special thanks to The Los Angeles Fire Department Station 65
Chief Daniel McCarthy Capt. Cecil Morris
Carol Meyer Capt. Marc Segal
Gary Garcia Capt. Anthony Senior
Christian Gassler Dan Stark
Capt. Cristian Granucci James Sundermann
James McIndoe Capt. Miguel Telles
Michael Moreland Downey Regional Medical Center

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