Why Many People Are Turning to Uber Over Ambulances in Emergencies
The cost is one of the top reasons.
Many Americans are using Uber and other car services to get to the emergency room rather than calling for an ambulance.
Tech writer Chandra Steele is one of them. She recently suffered from internal bleeding, for which she was already seeking treatment, and didn't want to call 911 because, "I knew it was an emergency, but I wasn't sure if it really required an ambulance."
"I just used the Uber app and in three minutes somebody was there,” Steele, 42, told Inside Edition.
Actress Jaime King has also taken an Uber to the emergency room. She told late night host Conan O'Brien in 2014 that she turned to the app as she was going into labor "because I thought an ambulance would be too dramatic" and "I didn't have a ride."
One reason why so many people are taking app-based car services to the emergency room are largely because of it's price, as ambulances can run you anywhere from $400 to $1,000 if you don't have insurance.
Another factor is the ambulance response time, which in New York City is 9 minutes and 22 seconds, according to a 2015 report from the Fire Department of the City of New York. Compare that with an Uber, which can sometimes be as close as a minute away.
But many Uber drivers are not happy about taking patients to the hospital in an emergency scenario.
"I had someone try to get a ride with me to the E.R. with a badly cut hand," one driver wrote on UberPeople.net. "They didn't want to get blood in their car so they called an Uber. I said 'no thanks' and drove off."
Dr. Robert Glatter of Lennox Hill Hospital told Inside Edition that "Uber E.R.," as it's been nicknamed, is not a smart idea in a crisis.
"They don't have any kind of oxygen, they don't have any intravenous fluids or IV's," he said. "They don't have paramedics! That is the main difference. They have a driver."
"Uber is not a substitute for medical professionals," the company said in a statement. "In the event of any medical emergency, we encourage people to call 911."
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