Imagine you’re enjoying a nice evening at home after a long day at work when the unthinkable happens…you start feeling a pain in your chest that quickly spreads into your arms. You become lightheaded, nauseous, and pale. You feel as if your heart is racing a hundred miles an hour. You are having a heart attack. Your spouse rushes to the phone, dials 911, and an ambulance is at your door in three minutes flat, loading you into the back on a stretcher and speeds off to your local hospital, a mere four miles away. The EMT’s rush you up the ER ramp into the receiving room only to be told by the staff that they have to go somewhere else, the next hospital available is 15 miles down the road. They load you back in, hit the sirens and go speeding off into the night. But it’s too late. When they get there, you’re already dead.

Sound impossible? Hardly. According to an investigation by the Institute of Medicine, such a scenario happens about once every minute in the U.S., and while not every case ends up with a dead patient in the back of an ambulance, the statistics are a sobering wake-up call concerning the state of our hospitals, health care, and ability to react to disaster situations.

This is just another piece in the mounting pile of evidence that America’s health care system is not the finest in the world, at least not in terms of accessibility or preparedness. The report makes some fine recommendations, but unless lawmakers hear from the citizenry, the issue of national health care is going to keep getting pushed to the back burner.

What matters more to your life? Burning flags or closed hospital doors? Same sex marriage or dying in the back of an ambulance? To me it’s an easy choice. Time to put some pressure of politicians to work on something that really matters to all of us, our quality of life, and yes, our national security.

(originally posted at Bring It On! )