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Need Emergency Care? In Maryland, Firefighters Are Making House Calls

February 14, 2017
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Americans get approximately one billion colds per year. This isn’t surprising considering the overcrowding of emergency rooms. That’s why Maryland resident Thelma Lee prefers the new way to receive medical treatment – from her local fire department.

Maryland’s Prince George County is three months into a project that allows its residents to call 911 and request a house call from the Fire Department for non-emergency medical issues. They have approximately 1,400 ‘patients’ that call on a regular basis for things such as blood pressure checks and other basic and non-emergency medical care. The benefits of this effort are twofold: first, it helps tremendously to cut back on the countless non-emergency ER visits that congesting the waiting rooms and potentially interfering with the balance of treatment for those who do have life-threatening emergencies.

“What we are doing now is not good medicine…These sore throats, bladder infections and, believe it or not, mosquito bites do not need to go lights-and-sirens through city traffic,” said Robert Holman, interim medical director for the D.C. Fire and EMS Department.

Second, it allows patients to receive care even though they may not have the means to afford it otherwise. For instance, Lee had been calling 911 around three times a week and making a trip to the ER almost as often. Now, non-emergency medical care is just a phone call away.

Of course, if you live in the vast majority of the country that doesn’t yet have this luxury, you still have plenty of options for urgent medical issues. Visiting an urgent walk-in clinic is a fast and affordable alternative to the ER that has a similar scope of support. When you visit an urgent walk in clinic, an appointment isn’t necessary. Wait times generally do not exceed 15 minutes, and you can usually be diagnosed and treated in less than an hour. Additionally, most urgent walk in clinics have a registered physician onsite.

Next time you have a non-life threatening but still urgent medical issue, skip the wait at the ER and opt for an urgent care center instead. It may not be the luxurious treatment Thelma Lee is fortunate enough to receive from her local firemen, but it’s the closest you’ll get.