About Private Ambulances

Private ambulance services are common in many towns and cities. While most municipalities feature ambulance services that are funded by the government and reachable by an emergency phone number, some cities and towns often have private ambulance services on contract to respond to certain situations. These private companies offer a range of services, from non-urgent transport to emergency care.

Significance

When people see ambulances with their lights flashing and sirens blaring, or people are injured and an ambulance pulls up, they likely do not give much thought to whether those ambulances are a public service or private company. That is the way it should be, since private ambulances complete many of the same tasks that public ambulances do. Oftentimes, private ambulances are contracted to be a response team in the event city ambulance crews are busy.

Function

Private ambulances serve in a variety of capacities. In some cases, they are used only to transport patients in non-urgent situations. Other times, they provide full-service emergency response in a backup role, and often are called when public ambulance crews are too busy. In the middle of those two functions is the use of private ambulances to respond to situations in which there are minor injuries, or the person who needs help likely will not need treatment.

Benefits

When private ambulance services are used to respond to non-emergency situations, or to situations in which there are minor injuries, the benefit is that public ambulance services remain available for emergencies with critical injuries, for example. In places where the two types of ambulance services exist, they often serve complementary roles, which is particularly beneficial to the citizens who count on rapid ambulance response time. While few private ambulances have paramedics on board, they often have emergency medical technicians.

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Misconceptions

Private ambulance services oftentimes are on contract with cities or other local governments, which means when people dial an emergency number it is possible that a private ambulance service will assist them. However, unlike public ambulance services, private ambulances also can be called directly in non-urgent situations. When people need non-emergency transportation to a hospital or nursing home, for example, a private ambulance probably is the best way to go. Private ambulances, most of which can provide basic life support, also have more discretion about which hospitals they can take patients to, and about their service area.

Types

Many private ambulance services have a contract with cities or other municipalities, but since they are private companies, they also serve other businesses. Large corporations, for example, might keep a private ambulance on call in case any employees need the services. Sports stadiums, too, oftentimes have ambulances on hand in case participants or spectators have a medical emergency and need to go to the hospital.