Firestorm

See a preview of this Truly CA episode.

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.

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