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What does an Ambulance Service do?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Ambulance services are medical transportation services that are often called upon to move ailing individuals from one location to another. The most common application of this type of service is to respond to an emergency situation such as an auto accident or the sudden collapse of an individual, quickly moving the ill or injured party to a care facility where he or she can receive treatment. However, the typical ambulance service provides other services as well.

Along with providing emergency medical transportation, it is not unusual for an ambulance service to transport patients between healthcare facilities. This can include moving a patient from one hospital to another, or transporting a patient from a nursing home to the hospital. As with emergency situations, there is usually trained medical staff present during the transport, making sure the patient remains stable and as comfortable as possible during the move from one facility to the other.

There are also tasks provided by these types of services that are classified as non-emergency medical transportation. An ambulance service can also be called upon to return a patient who has been released to his or her home. For example, if an accident victim is well enough to leave the hospital, but must remain in bed while convalescing at home, there is a good chance that an ambulance service will provide the transport home. Once arriving at the patient’s residence, the crew will assist the patient in getting in the home and settling into bed. At that point, the crew turns the responsibility for the patient over to the caregiver who was at the residence to receive the patient.

While many people think of an ambulance service as providing medical transport on the road only, the fact is that many services today also have the ability to transport patients by air. The use of an air ambulance service to transport patients to distant healthcare facilities has become increasingly common as people travel further from home for business and pleasure. While some services limit their range of coverage to a certain distance, there are international medical transport services that make use of both ground and air transportation to get a patient to the desired destination, no matter where in the world the destination happens to be.

In most countries, an ambulance service is required to register with a local jurisdiction in order to offer medical transportation to the general public. Many jurisdictions have specific criteria that the service must meet in order to be approved for this function. The requirements include hiring only properly trained personnel to administer care to the party being transported. In addition, most ambulance services require that drivers maintain a spotless driving record in order to be eligible for continuing employment.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including The Health Board, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By RocketLanch8 — On Apr 12, 2014

I met an ambulance crew at lunch one time and we talked about their jobs. One of the EMTs told me that most of their day is spent transporting non-emergency patients to and from hospitals and nursing homes. He said he may be sent on an emergency run once or twice a day, but mostly on weekends. Another crew member told me the main difficulty with running an ambulance service was financial. Insurance companies and government health programs have to be convinced an emergency run was truly an emergency before they will compensate the ambulance company. If it's not covered, someone may be charged hundreds of dollars out-of-pocket for the transportation.

By Inaventu — On Apr 11, 2014

My town recently had a crisis concerning ambulance service. At one time, the city only allowed one ambulance company to cover the entire area. When people complained about a monopoly, the city decided to split the contract between two ambulance companies. This was supposed to cut response times in half, and also prevent one ambulance service from charging higher rates for exclusive service.

The problem was that one of those private ambulance service companies was not managed very well. Paychecks for the ambulance crews either bounced or weren't even written. One night the ambulance crew on duty staged a walk-out, telling the city dispatcher they were out of service indefinitely. Fortunately, the other ambulance service had enough crews on stand-by to handle any emergencies. The troubled ems ambulance service eventually did file for bankruptcy.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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