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Driving to the hospital instead of an ambulance?

rh71

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Aug 28, 2001
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I've often wondered why people in dire need of help would not just transport someone to the hospital themselves (if able) as opposed to calling an ambulance. Doesn't it take twice as long for the ambulance, despite the fact that they can perform procedures en-route, and have sirens? Maybe I'm missing something... but at the very least I'd [carefully] run lights myself if I'm desperate.

I am faced with preparing myself should something happen while we're at a sporting event (occasional shortness of breath after kid vax'd).
 

pete6032

Diamond Member
Dec 3, 2010
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Do you have adrenaline shots in your car? How about a defibrillator? Maybe an epipen? Any certified emergency medical providers in your vehicle?
 

MrSquished

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Jan 14, 2013
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I've often wondered why people in dire need of help would not just transport someone to the hospital themselves (if able) as opposed to calling an ambulance. Doesn't it take twice as long for the ambulance, despite the fact that they can perform procedures en-route, and have sirens? Maybe I'm missing something... but at the very least I'd [carefully] run lights myself if I'm desperate.

I am faced with preparing myself should something happen while we're at a sporting event (occasional shortness of breath after kid vax'd).
I'm willing to wager sometimes it is faster if you throw someone in your car and go - if there is no traffic. But what if there is, or not everyone has a car. Also not everyone can handle very high stress situations. I'm just thinking out loud here but my guess is if you arrive in an ambulance, they might see you faster?

Are you worried about out of pocket costs? If so, if it feels safe enough that you can drive, drive. This is America, they will charge you out the ass for every possible service you get, and that includes the ambulance ride for sure.

My niece recently hurt her elbow playing in the yard. My brother in law has 'good' insurance through his job, a large corporation. He did know what to do, put her arm on a cutting board and told her to keep it on there and not move it around. They debated going right to the ER or going to an urgent care in order to save money on out of pocket costs to have it diagnosed because they really weren't sure how bad it was. Could not tell just that she was in pain. They did end up going to the ER - turned out to be a dislocated elbow that needed surgery that night.

After their deductible and copays, this will end up costing them many thousands of dollars. Over 10K for sure, probably way more. After they hit the deductible, which is like 8K, it's a 30% copay. She is still waiting for all the bills to arrive.
 
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Our kid stopped breathing shortly after coming home from the hospital. She was a premature born, and it happened during a nap.

Luckily Grandma was sitting beside her and happened to notice. Called 911, fire truck was there in less than 2 min. Ambulance maybe 1 minute after.

Wife was doing CPR and got her to start breathing again before they got here - but still... No way in hell I would have grabbed my keys and jumped in a car over waiting on the ambulance.
 

Red Squirrel

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May 24, 2003
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www.uovalor.com
I'd say it depends how close you are to the hospital and how critical the nature of the incident is (ex: will it require constant treatment while on route), if you are very close it might actually be faster if the person is ok to sit for a few minutes without any immediate attention. (broken bones, some kind of reaction that does not seem to be getting worse etc) You also have to pay $50 for an ambulance ride so I can see how some people rather just drive.

On the other hand, if you get there in an ambulance you are being crash carted straight to a room where you will get immediate help. If you drive you need to sit in the waiting room. So depending on what the issue is, it may very well be worth calling an ambulance.

Ambulances also have authority to go through lights, and traffic needs to move out of the way, so if you are not close then that is probably the biggest advantage of calling one.
 

Paperdoc

Golden Member
Aug 17, 2006
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I don't know what area you live in. Relevant because standards for amulance staff vary substantially among states and countries. I live in Ontario, Canada, and my son-on-law was a paramedic for over a decade. He took two years of intensive training in emergency procedures and tough certification exams. I am amazed at the breadth of knowledge he acquired and used on a daily basis in that position. THAT is why you call the ambulance - it comes with TWO HIGHLY trained people who know what to do, when, how and NOW!! It's not the vehicle - its the people! His daughter is training for that same profession at a college now. Even part way through first year she is WAY beyond what any good First Aider knows or can do.
 
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MrSquished

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Jan 14, 2013
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I'd say it depends how close you are to the hospital and how critical the nature of the incident is (ex: will it require constant treatment while on route), if you are very close it might actually be faster if the person is ok to sit for a few minutes without any immediate attention. (broken bones, some kind of reaction that does not seem to be getting worse etc) You also have to pay $50 for an ambulance ride so I can see how some people rather just drive.

On the other hand, if you get there in an ambulance you are being crash carted straight to a room where you will get immediate help. If you drive you need to sit in the waiting room. So depending on what the issue is, it may very well be worth calling an ambulance.

Ambulances also have authority to go through lights, and traffic needs to move out of the way, so if you are not close then that is probably the biggest advantage of calling one.
$50? While here they can cost as little as say $500, they can also cost you many thousands of dollars

 
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To be fair though, it does depend on distance of all things. If you have an emergency and the nearest hospital is 30 min away, you're looking at double that time for the ambulance to get there, then bring it to the hospital. In cases like that, I could potentially understand driving.

But that's mostly a rural issue.
 

esquared

Forum Director & Omnipotent Overlord
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Bay area the rides are probably 2K-4K depending on the county.

Here's something recent from Contra Costa county
 
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MtnMan

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2004
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I've often wondered why people in dire need of help would not just transport someone to the hospital themselves (if able) as opposed to calling an ambulance. Doesn't it take twice as long for the ambulance, despite the fact that they can perform procedures en-route, and have sirens? Maybe I'm missing something... but at the very least I'd [carefully] run lights myself if I'm desperate.

I am faced with preparing myself should something happen while we're at a sporting event (occasional shortness of breath after kid vax'd).
You need to remember the number to 911. You need to give clear description of the problem, and the exact location the patient is at.

Lives are saved not how quickly you get to the waiting room (where you will be if you drive), but how quick, knowledgeable care is given.

Locally the fire department is dispatched for the simple reason they are very often the closest. EMS with paramedics is also dispatched. The care and assessment begins when they arrive.

And if you are at a sporting event, there is a high probability of there are EMT/Paramedics already there. Any school sponsored athletic event will have at a minimum an EMT on standby, primarily for the athletes. My grandson is a firefighter/EMT and is assigned to standby at games, with the rescue truck.
 

ptthomas

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May 21, 2021
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I think it all depends all the severity of the patient. If it's a severe condition which needs a 1st aid necessarily then calling the ambulance is the best way.
 

Iron Woode

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Oct 10, 1999
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I've often wondered why people in dire need of help would not just transport someone to the hospital themselves (if able) as opposed to calling an ambulance. Doesn't it take twice as long for the ambulance, despite the fact that they can perform procedures en-route, and have sirens? Maybe I'm missing something... but at the very least I'd [carefully] run lights myself if I'm desperate.

I am faced with preparing myself should something happen while we're at a sporting event (occasional shortness of breath after kid vax'd).
if the issue isn't life threatening, then driving or taking a cab makes sense.

On the other hand, an ambulance has paramedics with meds and training to save your life. An ambulance has lights and sirens to get to the hospital quickly.

If the issue is very serious, like life and death, then call an ambulance.

it's only $40 here.
 
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highland145

Lifer
Oct 12, 2009
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if the issue isn't life threatening, then driving or taking a cab makes sense.

On the other hand, an ambulance has paramedics with meds and training to save your life. An ambulance has lights and sirens to get to the hospital quickly.

If the issue is very serious, like life and death, then call an ambulance.
I'm, literally, 3 min away from the ER so a lot of things would just be a short drive. If I'm laid out with a heart attack, no way the wife/kid are picking me up.

Our local issue is that the ambulance services don't want to pay any money. Training/certs that take time and $ plus on the job experience and they want to pay $14/hr. :rolleyes:
 

pauldun170

Diamond Member
Sep 26, 2011
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I've often wondered why people in dire need of help would not just transport someone to the hospital themselves (if able) as opposed to calling an ambulance. Doesn't it take twice as long for the ambulance, despite the fact that they can perform procedures en-route, and have sirens? Maybe I'm missing something... but at the very least I'd [carefully] run lights myself if I'm desperate.

I am faced with preparing myself should something happen while we're at a sporting event (occasional shortness of breath after kid vax'd).
I was going to say something completely different but in the end decided to keep it simple and straight to the point.
Set aside some time and take this training

You can take it online. The course is cheap and what you learn is going to be very valuable.

After you take the course, you probably won't care about your original question anymore.
 

rh71

No Lifer
Aug 28, 2001
52,682
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I was going to say something completely different but in the end decided to keep it simple and straight to the point.
Set aside some time and take this training

You can take it online. The course is cheap and what you learn is going to be very valuable.

After you take the course, you probably won't care about your original question anymore.
Agree, I will do this. Was thinking about it last night. I do wonder if it's any different than other free online videos since I don't actually need the certification paper.
 

MtnMan

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2004
6,166
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I'm, literally, 3 min away from the ER so a lot of things would just be a short drive. If I'm laid out with a heart attack, no way the wife/kid are picking me up.

Our local issue is that the ambulance services don't want to pay any money. Training/certs that take time and $ plus on the job experience and they want to pay $14/hr. :rolleyes:
The problem is when you 'walk' into the ER, there's a lot of paperwork (forms and clipboards) before care is provided.

When you call EMS, care starts when the paramedics arrive, and the clipboards and forms are bypassed when you get to the hospital.
 
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pauldun170

Diamond Member
Sep 26, 2011
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Agree, I will do this. Was thinking about it last night. I do wonder if it's any different than other free online videos since I don't actually need the certification paper.
I do recommend sticking with the an official program vs poking around on the internet.
The online course is activity based and not just a video.
 

nakedfrog

No Lifer
Apr 3, 2001
51,460
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It really depends on the situation.

Due to policy, my kid was transferred from an ER to another facility, in a non-emergency situation, via ambulance. It was an out-of-network ambulance, and it took some back and forth, but eventually they got a thousand dollars out of my insurance company to drive the kid 1.5 miles. They still want another $253 out of me. My anus feels sore.
 

Iron Woode

Elite Member
Super Moderator
Oct 10, 1999
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Last edited:
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You have to pay for Ambulance???
Everyone pays for an ambulance - it's just a matter of if you pay beforehand constantly (through taxation), or if you pay only as the services are needed.


Regardless, someone pays for that ambulance, the trained medical staff, and the medical equipment regardless of what country you're living in.
 

BurnItDwn

Lifer
Oct 10, 1999
25,680
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You have to pay for Ambulance???
In America, people have to pay a lot for ambulance services
There is no standard fee or cost, and insurance will sometimes cover part of it, but only if they deem it an emergency.

Typically, I believe ambulance fees usually cost people around $1000-2000 out of pocket, but, sometimes its less, and sometimes its astronomically higher.
 

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