Wrong number? Increasing number of fire departments' calls involve medical, non-emergency help

Chattanooga Fire Department Battalion Chief David Thompson, right, is in command Friday, May 24, 2019, as several firefighters gear-up to enter a possible house fire on Igou Gap Road. The fire event turned educational for the resident as safety instruction was rendered by firefighting authorities and personnel on the scene.
photo Chattanooga Firefighter Daaron Espey mans the Quint 21 truck as fellow firefighters inspect a possible house fire on Igou Gap Road Friday, May 24, 2019. The fire event turned educational for the resident as safety instruction was rendered by firefighting authorities and personnel on the scene.

Firefighters typically conjure images of brave rescues from burning buildings, but many today spend more time on medical calls, helping citizens to stand up, walk down stairs or even bathe as gaps in services to handle America's aging population widen.

Recent spikes in "non-emergency" 911 calls - including calls from fully staffed senior living facilities - have fire departments across Hamilton County scrambling to help those in need on top of putting out fires.

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