|It's no secret that taking a ride in the back of an ambulance isn't cheap. For many in the U.S., a single ride can cost several thousand dollars. Because costs have spiraled so high, many people are looking for alternative transportation to the emergency room. According to The Mercury News, a new study shows that cities with Uber experience a sharp and noticeable decrease in ambulance usage. Simply put, people are calling rideshare services instead of 911.
The study was co-authored by David Slusky, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Kansas, and Dr. Leon Moskatel, an internist at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego. It looked at ambulance usage rates in 766 U.S. cities in 43 states from 2013 until 2015 as Uber was entering those markets. The data showed a 7 percent decrease in ambulance usage. Slusky and Moskatel believe that number will rise to 10 to 15 percent and stabilize. The study is currently being submitted for peer review.
The study cites a number of reasons someone might choose Uber over an ambulance. Cost is a big factor, but some people never had a choice before. In a place with poor public or taxi service, an ambulance might have been their only way to get to a hospital.
The Mercury News says Uber has distanced itself from the review. The company is happy that people are using its service but encourages them to call 911 in case of an emergency. One of the biggest benefits of an ambulance is that a EMT can treat a patient en route. An Uber driver isn't likely to offer the same help.
Though a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association journal JAMA Surgery determined that trauma victims transported by private car had a higher survival rate than those taken to a hospital by ambulance, perhaps because in trauma, every minute matters. Of course, injuries where an ambulance was summoned may have been more severe.