Firestorm: May 2011

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.