Like most of the general public, you were taught to dial 911 for an ambulance during an emergency.
Did you know, the majority of ambulances you see on the roads are probably on a non-emergency call?
Ambulances provide both emergency transportation and non-emergency medical transportation, which is usually planned or booked ahead of time for appointments. Non-emergency medical transportation can also be referred to as convalescent transportation. These types of trips are for those who are bedridden, transferring to and from a skilled facility or hospital, on a vent or require any type of medication administration or monitoring of vital functions.
So, what’s are the differences between a privately-owned service and one that is public or volunteer?
A local public ambulance service or life saving crew can only transport a patient to the nearest hospital within their service area. They usually try to stay within a 10-minute transport range. Private services can take patients to whichever hospital the patient prefers. Private ambulance services often transport patients out-of-state or to a hospital that is several hours away.
Emergency vs Scheduled
Depending on the severity of a 911 situation, either a Basic Life Support (BLS) or an Advanced Life Support (ALS) truck will be sent. The majority of EMS providers that work for a private service are EMT’s or Emergency Medical Technicians. To make a BLS truck, only two EMT’s are needed and is typically all that is required for most convalescent or non-emergency transports by a private service. An ALS truck requires a paramedic, who is qualified to insert intravenous lines, operate more advanced medical equipment, and other advanced medical techniques. During a 911 call, the nearest truck will be dispatched to the scene of the emergency, regardless if it is an ALS or BLS truck. In the event that advanced medical technique is needed, a BLS truck can call for additional ALS backup. 911 backup can come from any private service if they have someone qualified and available.
Public ambulance services and the local lifesaving crew receive funding from tax revenue, grants and
billing for their transportation services. Cost for transportation is per mile and dependent on the type of
transport (BLS or ALS). Private services also bill per mile and according to the type of transport
administered, but they do not qualify for grants or receive any funding from taxpayers.
Abingdon Ambulance Service has been providing the town of Abingdon and the surrounding areas of Southwest Virginia with quality medical transportation services for over 35 years. Abingdon Ambulance Service and its sister company C-Trans Medical Services, proudly staff both highly trained EMTs and critical care paramedics. With multiple locations staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, we are always ready to respond to your transportation needs:
– non-emergency transports
– basic life support
– advanced life support
– doctor’s office
– critical care
Proudly serving: Washington County, Smyth County, Russell County, Wythe County, Wise County,
Grayson County, Scott County, Lee County, Tazewell County, City of Bristol, Northeast Tennessee
“When every second counts, count on Abingdon Ambulance Service”
Special thanks to C-Trans paramedic, April Estepp, for her assistance in writing this article to ensure accuracy.