You may disagree that this is an appropriate thing to do - but these services do take money to run. The money has to come from somewhere. So we can either raise taxes, or bill for actual services rendered, or both. Most of the country does both right now, seeing it as the best compromise.
On the fire side - $900/year isn't too outrageous, necessarily. If you had a taxpayer funded department, your taxes would increase somewhere in the neighborhood of $900/year. Again, the money has to come from somewhere. Municipalities basically have 3 options:
Most of the country does either 1 or 2 (or a combination career-volunteer department). In both cases, they need to still buy all the fire trucks, equipment, training, insurance, etc. None of that is cheap, and there is absolutely on-going maintenance costs that are quite steep. The difference between 1 and 2 is that 2 saves you the cost of salary and benefits for employees. The downside is you're going to have much less reliable response times, experience levels of responders, etc. You get what you pay for.
Not to diminish the usefulness of the feature, but wouldn't it have made more sense to call an ambulance?
Yes, and no.
Actually, just yes. Speaking as a paramedic, a PE (or really anything which causes difficulty breathing lasting longer than a few seconds) is a completely legitimate reason to ask for an ambulance. That clot could move at any time, making it impossible to breath. And especially in the case described in this story, where the patient was suffering enough that he couldn't maintain full control of a vehicle without assistance - choosing to drive yourself is just silly. Just go ahead and give us a call, we don't mind. Or, at a minimum, get someone else to drive you.
But arriving in an ambulance will get you looked at sooner when you get there
Actually, no. Now, it sounds like you ended up in a shitty hospital that was poorly staffed or something - but in reality, the hospital staff triages and sees patients in order of severity, regardless of whether you arrived by ambulance or walked in. In fact, a lot of ne'er-do-wells seem to share your belief that an ambulance will get you seen faster, and thus call us for silly reasons that do not need an ambulance. And while we are more than happy to give you a ride to the hospital (non-emergent, without using the lights and sirens) - we'll drop you off in the waiting room, where you'll get triaged along with everyone else.
If the coder struggled but the result turned out great then the method will still flag the code to be likely to be bad. The method will also completely miss buggy code caused by the programmer not realizing that the problem is tricky and going for a way too simple solution.
I agree that these factors mean that the test cannot be reliably used to just identify potentially dangerous parts of code. But I think the results could reveal some interesting information about the programmer.
As you said - if we have data showing that a developer struggled with a particular area of code, but that area ends up being of high quality - then we can see that the developer likely has a great attention to detail, and is being thorough with his design and testing. That's good information to know about a developer.
Another possibility is that the developer moved quickly through the area of code without stressing. But the code quality ends up being crap. This tells us that the developer is likely sloppy, lazy or just not very good. This may help identify an opportunity to coach a newer developer - or just to identify developers who we can't trust.
Now, I'd agree that in terms of yielding actionable data - this isn't as valuable or useful as if we were able to simply get a reliable indication of code quality. But its still something interesting to consider.
That's obviously in addition to all the private security services that lack full law enforcement authority. And I'm probably leaving a few out in my list above - it's been a few years since I've lived there or payed real close attention. But the point is, it's by no means unusual for a private organization to form it's own full-fledged police force.
"But what we need to know is, do people want nasally-insertable computers?"