"I joined the force to battle blazes, not to be an emergency room doctor," explains a Washington state firefighter.
While emergency departments have long played the role of primary care center, it seems that firefighters are now serving as mobile EDs. A recent article from the New York Times profiles Engine Company 10, which receives 80% of their calls from medical emergencies. It opens an interesting debate over whether fire trucks, which often have the fastest response times and carry EMTs, should be dispatched to medical calls.
This increase in medical calls, however, occurs while fire companies across the country are cutting back. A few months ago I posted about a reduction in service by the city of Los Angeles. Now the LA Times reports on a 3 year old who drown while the nearest fire truck was unavailable.