More people opting to use ride-sharing services over ambulances
PHOENIX — A national study found in states like Arizona, where ride-sharing services are popular, more people are opting from calling an ambulance to take them to the hospital.
They’re calling Uber or Lyft drivers instead.
The study by the University of Kansas looked at 766 cities across the country where ride-sharing services have thrived and found ambulance calls in those states fell by about 7 percent.
Capt. Larry Subervi, a spokesperson for the Phoenix Fire Department, said calling an Uber or Lyft driver is no different than calling a taxi. He noted the Phoenix Fire Department runs a taxi-voucher program that pays for taxis to take people with non life-threatening medical emergencies to get medical care instead of using an ambulance.
However, Subervi warned calling an Uber or Lyft driver is not always a good idea.
“We do not want somebody who is in a life-or-death situation calling an Uber or having to wait on Uber,” he said. “If it’s a true medical medical emergency, 911 is absolutely the best route.”
Brent Burgett, deputy chief of the Mesa Fire and Medical Department, agreed. He said people with life-threatening illnesses or injuries should not call a ride-sharing service to take them to the hospital.
“They’re not going to be able to deliver the same care that we provide when we transport people to the hospital in the back of an ambulance with paramedics and firefighter EMT’s,” Burgett said.
In a statement to KTAR News 92.3 FM, an Uber spokesperson said the company is “grateful” it’s able to help people get to their destination when they need it most.
“However, it’s important to note that Uber is not a substitute for law enforcement or medical professionals,” the spokesperson added. “In the event of any medical emergency, we always encourage people to call 911.”