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Home > Topics > Mass Casualty Incidents
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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

Can we predict the next medical calamity?

Healthcare for victims of Colo. shooting reminds us how difficult life can be without health insurance

By Arthur Hsieh

Editor's note: Three of the five hospitals treating victims of the Colo. theater massacre said they will limit or completely wipe out those medical bills.

I'm happy to learn that the Colo. theater shooting victims are getting a lot of financial help for their healthcare.

It's terrific to see that the hospitals involved are providing charity care, although clearly there are many more costs associated with rehabilitation and follow-up care that will be happening for months, perhaps even years.

The larger issue that's not being spoken about clearly is how difficult life can be without health insurance.

The victim and family profiled in the article can attest to the monumental challenges they face in long-term management of their injuries. The necessity of paying for healthcare is obvious, and it's why our nation is making dramatic, painful changes to its healthcare system.

The debate of how we do this will continue for years to come, but there must be change. Even though we're in the business of the unexpected, none of us can predict when a medical calamity will strike.

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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