Firefighters Clash With Private 911 Services

Communities that are strapped for cash in this economy are turning more and more to for-profit ambulance companies, which can cut labor costs. But as better building codes cut down on fires, first response is becoming a big part of what fire departments do, and fire departments have been clashing with private emergency rescue companies over who should answer 911 calls. The tension came to a head recently in Las Vegas, where insults flew between American Medical Response and firefighter unions. It's an industry worth fighting over: in total, at least $14 billion is spent each year on U.S. ambulance trips.

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