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Norman Salas
Norman Salas
Occupation: Lieutenant, South Florida fire-rescue department
Hometown: South Florida
"I am a currently assigned to an advanced cardiac life support rescue unit. I am also an EMT/paramedic instructor. I cannot begin to tell you how many people call 911 in lieu of going to the doctor, sometimes just to make sure their blood sugar is normal, their EKG is normal and their vital signs are normal."

"Many times they call because they don't have insurance. Other times people just want to get a clean bill of health but would rather not deal with long waits at the doctor's office. So they call 911 in lieu of the doctor for non-emergency calls, which is often referred to as 'abuse of the 911 system.' Of course this is not a very smart approach as we are limited in what we can do out in the field. The prudent thing is for them to be checked out in a hospital where more detailed exams and diagnostic tests can be performed."

"We make them aware of this, but they still end up refusing transportation to the hospital based on 'normal' exam findings on the scene. It's sad to not have insurance and rely on paramedics to give you some peace of mind. I hope we never give these type of patients a false peace of mind and that they do follow up with their primary care physician. I don't know the answer. What I do know is that I have a duty to act professionally on the scene and help the patient in whatever way I can."

NEXT: Daniel Purdom

Last updated August 03 2009: 9:29 AM ET
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