Uber Is Becoming Top Choice For Some Ambulance Rides
For those who need to get to the hospital immediately, many are now opting for an Uber instead of an ambulance.
Stat News reports that cost is playing a major role. With the average ambulance ride costing $600-1,000, an Uber is more practical unless life-saving equipment is truly needed en route. It also allows riders to choose which hospital they’re taken to.
“They were burned and wanted to go the emergency room,” recalled Francis Piekut, a Boston-area Uber driver who dropped a passenger off at a hospital. “I knew they were in bad pain, so I didn’t mind it. I was already there, and I know the ambulance costs a lot.”
However, it’s also important to note that those looking to use a ride-sharing service may not be able to bank on an emergency trip to the hospital. Several potential passengers reported on online forums that they were turned down for this request and told by the driver that they didn’t want blood or a potential dead body in their vehicle,.
“The women tell me their friend is not feeling well, and they want me to take them to the emergency room. I told them no and to just call 911. I have to respect the rules of the road; I can’t speed like an ambulance,” recalled a Boston-based driver who wished to remain anonymous. “And there’s definitely a liability thing. If anything happened to the guy, it’s definitely on me and the insurance I have to carry.”
Uber spokesperson Brooke Anderson said via e-mail that their ride-sharing services “are not a substitute for law enforcement or medical professionals. In the event of any medical emergency, we encourage people to call 911.”
Washington D.C. officials are on board with the idea, though, after a city study found that ride-sharing services might be better than an ambulance for non-emergency, low-acuity calls. A trial program specifically for this is part of the mayor’s budget, which will be voted on next month.
“Rideshares don’t take ambulances out of service, and not everybody coming into the ER is in a dire situation. And the ambulance can be expensive,” said Dr. Mark Plaster, an emergency room physician in Baltimore. “I don’t care how they get there. Just get there.”