Imagine that a family member has been sick with something as simple as perhaps a common cold and now finds themselves needing to go to Urgency Care as a result of worsening health. Now imagine that said family member is also significantly weakened as result of being sick…so much so that they would not be able to, even with help, get themselves into a vehicle to be taken to the hospital. Now remember, all we’re talking about here is basically a really really bad case of the common cold (perhaps a bit more than just a cold) with perhaps some difficulty breathing – not the gasping/choking kind of difficulty that would have anyone with half a brain running for the phone to dial 911 and get Emergency Services on the way immediately… We’re talking the kind not much worse than what would be expected from that of a cold. Difficulty that’s just getting bad enough to warrant a trip in to see the doctor in an urgent manner. Except that, as you will recall, I mentioned that the family member is weakened enough that getting them into a vehicle in order to take them into urgency care is not something that would be doable.
Options?? Well there are ambulance taxis (or whatever you call them) Ummm right, except those are generally done via appointment (aren’t they?) and I’m pretty certain most insurances (unless you have a really really good insurance, which probably costs you plenty) aren’t going to cover the cost of an “ambulance taxi”. Nonetheless, there’s the still the family member that needs to go to the hospital and options for getting them there are limited.
Cue 911 call (after a call to the nurse’s line at the hospital to be sure you aren’t completely off your rocker). Being the wonderful guys that they are, emergency services are dispatched and respond with the cavalry…. Fire/EMS…. Did I mention EMS – with full-fledged paramedic personnel and gear. A mind is put quickly at ease…Except that really all that is needed is a way to get the said family member when there areno viable options for getting them there ones self. While the paramedic personnel and gear are not doubt comforting, they aren’t necessarily needed in this situation thus taking them out of service for perhaps a more serious medical situations (and for thus who would ridicule and ask “Why the hell not just use an ambo taxi if that’s all that’s needed” – Need I remind you of the before mentioned insurance coverage and scheduling of said taxi”).
Do I have answers to this conundrum?? Well…. no, not really. But it does seem to me that there should be more viable and suitable options for situations like these… One option might be having ambulance taxis (Ok, I have no idea what the proper terminology should be here) available for such calls and making it so that they’d be covered by insurance (ok so it’s not quite so simple as that, after all you don’t want people taking advantage of said service just because they can’t be bothered to take themselves when able – this would be for those who absolutely cannot get to the hospital under their own power.
Another option? How about more BLS level services to take these types of calls. Let me go back, for just a bit, to the call… You see, the call to 911 puts into motion (as I mentioned before) both Fire & Rescue coming out, but really all that is needed is help in getting the weakened family member to the hospital to have them checked for difficulty breathing due to a cold (seems I’ve said that several times already). So instead of dispatching the full regalia of Fire & Rescue with all the paramedical personnel and gear, how about dispatching a simpleBLS unit to the scene…
But then there’s the question of, “What if the situation is worse than what the caller is indicating”. After all not everyone is walking around with a medical degree or even medical knowledge and not having the proper personnel & equipment in a timely manner can have devastating results. Two options there – 1) dispatch BLS with ALS on standby notice or 2) dispatch the paramedic fire/ems crew but release (clear) them once BLS is on scene once it is determined that they (the Paramedic crew) is not needed.
Would any of these actually work – Again, I have no idea. I’m no expert or professional. These are just my thoughts, opinions, and ideas based on personal experiences and a little bit of what I’ve gleaned from things I’ve learned from those who are expert (phheww).
Personally, I would think that in the above mentioned case, the idea of an ambulance taxi (which already exists) would be most suitable and most cost effective. But it doesn’t help when #1 you have to call and schedule such a ride (yeah, we can get to you ohh say later today or tomorrow sometime) and #2 Your insurance is likely to deny payment as (to my knowledge) most non-emergency transports (such as an “ambulance taxi” would be considered aren’t covered. Heck even some emergency transports (when not properly documented) are, apparently, not covered but that’s a whole other story.