The Pueblo Fire Department is taking proactive steps to cope with a huge increase in 911 calls for help that often end up being nonemergencies. The problem has become acute with nearly 23,000 calls for service in 2017, compared with fewer than 12,000 just 10 years ago and only 5,830 calls in 1999.
The reason for the jump is not just a growing population, but a socioeconomic shift in which many people have become so dependent on public assistance that they actually treat 911 responders as their personal primary health care providers. In the last couple of years, as an example, the department went on calls more than 200 times to assist one particular homeless man. A compassionate firefighter finally bought the man a plane ticket back to North Carolina so he could be cared for by his family.
However, such extraordinary generosity cannot be repeated for the thousands of recurring 911 calls that the city receives,