Firestorm: 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Firestorm Screens at EMS Expo

FIRESTORM screened twice this week at the EMS Expo and Conference at the Dallas Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. The conference features educational workshops and labs by industry professionals as well as the latest EMS products, technologies and innovation.

Both on Thursday, September 30 and Friday, October 1, director Julie Winokur was on hand to screen her film and answer questions from the audience. Check out some photos from the expo:

Update on our June 23 post ("LAC+USC 'Dangerously Overcrowded' ")
Emergency department services in LA County's USC hospital continue to worsen according to an article from

In August 2010, overcrowding took place 98 percent of the time, up from 80 percent in July. As a result, "adults arriving in the emergency room wait an average 12 1/2 hours from the time they are triaged until they are admitted or discharged."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

A new trend is unfolding: ERs across the country are posting their wait times online, via text, and even on a flashing billboard. With ER usage at a record high, hospitals are struggling to keep the wait times down, and this is one effort to dissipate the patient load.

According to an article by the Associated Press, "There are no statistics on how many hospitals advertise wait times, although they tend to have multiple ERs in a region, usually the suburbs. The idea: People with less urgent conditions — maybe they need stitches for a cut — might drive a bit farther for a shorter wait, possibly helping a hospital chain spread the load without losing easier cases to competitors."

Hospitals are trying everything from "team triage" — where patients are met by a doctor, nurse and paramedics at the front door — to "hallway medicine," where patients on guerneys are divided by the severity of their condition and given nursing attention in hallways.

These measures all point to a shortage of hospital in-patient beds and a poor system for directing non-urgent cases to appropriate places for care. Perhaps it's time to redefine "ER" so we preserve this valuable resource for true emergencies.

Friday, August 13, 2010

New JAMA report highlights America's ER crisis

Los Angeles is definitely not the only city experiencing a crisis in emergency care. Firestorm captures this national trend, but for those who remain skeptic about the severity of this issue then check out The Journal of the American Medical Association's recent report on national ER visits.

One of the report's findings: the number of patient visits in emergency rooms nationwide rose from 95 million to 117 million in 10 years. You may think "But ER visits will obviously increase with the growth of population, so what's the big deal?" The big deal is that while the number of patient visits grew 23%, only HALF of that increase can be attributed to the population growth. AND as the demand for ERs grew by this surge in visits, the number of ERs dropped by 5%.

So, still not convinced our nation has an emergency medical care problem??

Learn more about the JAMA report in this LA Times' Health Care blog post: Emergency rooms are getting more crowded everywhere, study finds

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

FIRESTORM now available for purchase!

FIRESTORM is now available to purchase on DVD for institutional use, community screenings, or personal viewing. To buy a DVD online through TEM please click here.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Generation Medicine Podcast featuring Firestorm

The EMT/Paramedic-centric podcast Generation Medicine recently uploaded their 7th episode, and Firestorm was the main topic. The host, Jeremiah Bush is an EMT and student in the Bay Area. Two guests appeared on the podcast as well; Natalie, a paramedic from Louisiana, and Sam Bradley, a paramedic who has worked in Los Angeles and the East Bay area. All three had been at the Firestorm premiere in San Francisco on May 16th, and use the podcast to discuss their own experiences, as well as how the issues in Firestorm affect the nation as a whole.

Listen to Episode #7 - "There's a Storm Brewin'"

Check out the rest of Generation Medicine.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

LAC+USC "Dangerously Overcrowded"

Many news sources are picking up on yesterday's LA Board of Supervisors report that the LAC+USC Hospital was dangerously overcrowded for the month of May.

The AP report was picked up by Southern California Public Radio KPCC/KUOR/KPCV and the San Jose Mercury News. Both say the hospital was overcrowded for "greater than 10% for the month of May" as opposed to 2% in the month of April.

The LA Times quotes Supervisor Gloria Molina as saying "I think we're having a real problem. This is a serious situation". Read the rest of their story here.

NBC Los Angeles is also reporting on the story, and say the problems stem from a move from the former 800 bed facility to a newer (but smaller) 600 bed facility in November of 2008. You can read their story here.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Tune in today at 9am PST or 12pm EST to the Mind Body Health & Politics radio show on the NPR affiliate KZYX to listen as host Dr. Richard Miller highlights our film FIRESTORM in his discussion of the nation's health care crisis.

Dr. Miller will interview FIRESTORM director Julie Winokur, paramedic and EMS District Captain Dave Pimentle, and ER doctor and Regional Medical Director for Emergent Medical Associates Dr. Lee Weiss. A patient who saw firsthand what happens when you don't have access to health care and have to call 911 when sick will also be interviewed.

You can also listen to the show live by clicking on the following link:

Have any thoughts, comments, or questions in response to the broadcast? Post them here and start a conversation!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Launch Screenings and New Reviews

FIRESTORM premiered on San Francisco's KQED this Sunday, and to promote the film we held screenings across the country. Paramedics, Firefighters, and regular citizens showed up to support the film in Philadelphia, Chicago, and San Francisco. Since the premiere, TEM has been flooded with calls and emails from those who saw the film or were unable to attend a screening and want to view it as quickly as possible. The response to the film has been overwhelmingly positive, and we appreciate everyone who came out in support of Firestorm.

One audience member from Philadelphia (who drove all the way down from Massachusetts to attend) went so far as to write a very detailed review on his blog, EMS in the New Decade. You can read Scott's review here.

Thanks again to everyone who came out, and to those of you in other parts of the country, we hope to see you soon at a screening near you!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Film Premiere & 3-City Simulcast: MAY 16th

If you're in Chicago, Philadelphia or San Francisco May 16th, please join us for the premiere of FIRESTORM and the launch of National EMS Week.

Talking Eyes Media and Chronicles of EMS are co-hosting a 3-city live streaming event at the following locations:

Philadelphia — 8-10pm @ Fado Irish Pub
Chicago — 7-9pm @ Fado Irish Pub
San Francisco — 5-7 pm @ Gordon Biersch Brewery

We'll share the movie, food, drink and lively conversation between the three locations.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Coming Down to the Wire!

As we inch closer and closer to the Firestorm air date, everyone here at Talking Eyes Media is anxiously awaiting the public response. Today we received a sneak peek of what is to come, when published a great article about the film.

Associate Editor John Erich spent some time interviewing Julie about the film, and writes how important it is to educate the "average citizens (who) may encounter crowded emergency departments, but many have no idea a lot of those EDs regularly shut their doors to us and our patients." We can't wait to hear what other people have to say in response to the film.

Click here to read the article in it's entirety on

We're also proud that Firestorm has been selected to screen at the Council on Foundations Annual Conference in Denver April 25th-27th. This is a great opportunity for our film to present EMS related issues to foundations from all over the country who could potentially help steer funds or support towards repairing the issue.

Lastly, if you're in the San Francisco Bay area, don't forget to mark your calendars for 6pm Sunday May 16th. Firestorm will be kicking off KQED's EMS week, airing on their Truly CA series.

That's all for now!

Monday, April 5, 2010


FIRESTORM is a one-hour documentary that goes behind-the-scenes with LA firefighters of station 65 in South LA, and reveals how the LAFD has become the de facto health care safety net for many of the region's poor and under-insured. Like fire services across the country, the majority of the LAFD's calls are medical, rather than fire-related.

Please check back to get the latest news and updates about the release of the documentary. We also want this blog to be a place where pre-hospital personnel in the field and in the emergency room can exchange ideas and stories aimed at improving emergency medical services.

To stay informed of screenings and future FIRESTORM related news, please send a message to with your name, email, and zip code. Also feel free to include any stories you might have regarding EMS or Health-care related issues. We look forward to hearing from you!