Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ambulance Diversions Decrease Survival Rates for Heart Attack Victims

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) just released a new study showing that heart attack victims were less likely to survive when hospital EDs were overcrowded and ambulances were diverted.

As one USA Today reader responded:

Wait now, so they are saying if you have a heart attack, and get the proper care and treatment at a hospital later rather than sooner, it leads to higher death rates?? Gosh, who would have thought that Batman.

The study looked at more than 13,000 Medicare patients in four California counties and concluded that hospital EDs that were on diversion at least 12 hours a day had higher mortality rates for patients suffering cardiac arrest.

Dr. Renee Hsia of UCSF, one of the lead researchers on the study explains, "In fact, for every 100 patients who are unfortunate enough to have a heart attack when ambulances are being diverted for long periods of time, our study shows that there are three potentially avoidable deaths.”

Thursday, May 26, 2011

LA to shut 18 Fire Engine Crews

Los Angeles City Council voted last week to shut down 18 fire engine crews in an effort to help rein in the city's massive deficit.

This is the latest in a steady erosion of the LAFD's budget and services. According to an Op-Ed by Jim Newton of the LA Times, the LAFD's "modified coverage plan" already means that "one out of three Fire Department divisions is always closed, as are two of its 16 battalions; half a dozen ambulances are out of commission at all times. Firefighters rotate through the city to cover for unstaffed areas. The result: Firefighters are often working in communities they don't know, confronting dangers they have not been trained to address."

The LAFD has been tasked with cutting its budget by 30% from 2009 levels, which is a hefty bite to take out of any public safety service. To comply, the LAFD has devised a "New Deployment Plan," which promises no fire stations will be closed and there will be no decline in service. How they can achieve that, given the rolling brownouts and a hiring freeze, is baffling.

Most of the press we've seen concentrates on the fire hazards of a reduced fire service. Considering that the majority of what LAFD does now is medical, when are we going to acknowledge the health care risks?

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Hsopitals left with $49B in unpaid tabs

A new study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) shows that even higher income uninsured families are struggling to meet the high costs of health care.

According to the government report released May 10, 2011 (titled "The Value of Health Insurance: Few of the Uninsured Have Adequate Resources to Pay Potential Hospital Bills"), uninsured Americans (including those with incomes well above the poverty line) leave hospitals with unpaid tabs of up to $49 billion a year. The report states that every year, nearly 2 million uninsured Americans are hospitalized. With 58% of these hospital stays resulting in bills of more than $10,000, most uninsured people are unable to afford potential hospital bills. even the top 10% of uninsured families with the most assets are estimated to be able to pay the full bill for only half of potential hospital stays.

In the HHS press release, the HHS assistant secretary for planning and evaluation says "No family should bear the burden of being one illness or accident away from bankruptcy."

To read the HHS Press Release:

To read the full HHS Study:

To read the USA Today article about the study:

Thursday, May 5, 2011

FIRESTORM nominated for Emmy!

Talking Eyes Media is thrilled to announce that FIRESTORM has been nominated for the 2010-2011 Northern California Emmy Awards! We are honored to be included in the "Documentary" category along with the films OUT. The Glenn Burke Story and The Next Frontier-Engineering the Golden Age of Green.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Debut of Fire Responders

Congrats to the Chronicles of EMS team for the debut of their new program: Fire Responders

This great new network uses the power of entertainment, education, technology and partnership to work with and improve the health care industry. If you're an EMT, firefighter, filmmaker, social media expert, or just interested in our nation's EMS and health care system, make sure to check out this new platform to learn about the latest EMS news.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

FIRESTORM screened at EMS Today

Filmmaker Julie Winokur and I traveled to Baltimore last week to present FIRESTORM at this year's EMS Today conference. Although we were only there from Thursday to Friday, our schedules were jammed pack. From attending a few educational sessions and exploring the exhibition floor to meeting up with old EMS friends and networking with new ones, EMS Today was a great success as well as a blast!

Julie was interviewed by GenMed host Natalie Queubedeaux and we also met up with EMS bloggers Chris Kaiser (Life Under The Lights) and Scott Kier (EMS in the New Decade), podcaster Jamie Davis (the Podmedic), and Ted Setla, Justin Schorr, and Sam Bradley of Chronicles of EMS. We also met paramedics from other countries including Switzerland and Germany. It was amazing to hear their thoughts after watching FIRESTORM and to compare notes about each of our country's EMS and health care system.

With a turnout of about 80-100 people, Julie and I couldn't have been more pleased with the screening of FIRESTORM. The more EMS professionals we show the film to, the greater the reach of our outreach campaign. And the greater the outreach campaign, the greater the chance of successfully reducing overcrowding in our nation's EDs.

So many EMTs tell us "ER overcrowding, wall delays, ambulance diversion -- all of this is currently happening in my community too!" Unfortunately, it's the public at large who remain unaware and uneducated about our nation's EMS crisis. Communities across the US (both urban and rural) are facing the same ER problems as seen in Los Angeles, and (as many of us discussed at the conference) 'If these problems exist on a day-to-day basis across the country, then how can EMS be prepared for and adequately respond to a disaster situation?' Americans have no idea that our EMS systems are overwhelmed and facing dire circumstances. That's why opportunities such as screening at EMS Today is so important to our film and campaign's success....We need more EMS members to learn about FIRESTORM so they can then use the film as a tool for advocacy and awareness in their communities.

Thank you to EMS Today for giving us this opportunity and to all our EMS friends for supporting our film and helping us spread the word. Our nation's EMS system is made up of such dedicated, skilled, intelligent, and humble men and women. It was such a privilege to be welcomed into their tight knit community with open arms.

P.S. Thank you to our Swiss fans for sharing your pictures with us! (From left to right: Ra, Julie, Elmar, Elissa, and Helge.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Insult to Injury

A man in Texas spent 6 hours in an ER waiting room with a sore ankle, got fed up and left without being seen. A few weeks later, he received a bill from the hospital for more than $100. The patient was told such billing was "standard procedure." After a local news station got involved, the bill was revoked and the incident was resolved.

Watch the report on

What's unclear, is how often this sort of thing happens and how many patients are billed inappropriately.