BOISE - According to the Center for Disease Control, millions of Americans are transported to the hospital every year, many who arrive by ambulance.
But recently, patients have been hailing an Uber or a Lyft.
Uber driver Zane McCarty can see why.
“Ambulance rides are expensive, they are $1,300, and if you can get from point A to point B for $6 in half the time, why not? If it’s not completely urgent I don't blame anyone forever taking Uber,” says McCarty.
Ada County Paramedics estimate the average ambulance ride is $1,500 or more.
Aside from cost, choice of hospital and quick arrival times are more two elements that might sway a rider to opt for an Uber.
While McCarty sees the appeal, as a driver there is a point where he draws the line.
“I think it's a judgment call, I think if there is an immediate need an ambulance is the best option and I would probably assist them in that, if they were just having internal pain I would probably take that call,” says McCarty
Driver Dan Eilers says it's a liability.
“I would say you need an ambulance, now! And if you don't want to call them I'm probably going to call them, you need to be seen right now,” says Eilers.
“We’re a lot more than a glorified taxi,” says Ada County Paramedics Battalion Chief Bart Buckendorf.
Buckendorf says that's because more can be done for a patient in an ambulance rather than the back of a cab.
“We can give the patient oxygen, there's 45 different medications we carry for chest pain, difficulty breathing," says Buckendorf. "I was at a hospital once when they brought in a patient to a hospital in a private car when they had been in a motorcycle wreck, and they brought that patient to a hospital that specializes in sick babies, and not the trauma center, so patients like that have to be transferred anyway.”
Buckendorf says if it is the cost for an ambulance ride that's a deal breaker, join Vital Ride.
Users pay a $60 annual fee and ambulance rides from Ada County Paramedics are waved for the entire family year round.
As for choosing an Uber instead of an ambulance, experts say you may be doing so at your own risk.
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