One chart from the fire response audit released today really struck me. Check out this breakdown of the emergencies the Portland Fire and Rescue respond to these days:
Only a slim three percent of the emergencies firefighters work are actually fires. That's a national trend the New York Times picked up on last year: Because so many people are uninsured, their medical problems reach the point of emergency before they're treated.
- NY Times
That's one of the hidden costs of a healthcare system that leaves millions uninsured. Firefighters wind up being de facto primary healthcare providers, running around town saving people from heart attacks. Wouldn't it be great if people could be treated by doctors before they're on the edge of death, leaving firefighters to actually fight fires?