What You Might Not Know About Ambulance Rides



If you have ever had the unfortunate need to ride in an ambulance, you may have been shocked by the financial expense that comes after the ride is over. As you scramble to pay the bill, the question may have crossed your mind — does auto insurance cover ambulance rides? Riding to the hospital in an ambulance can be one of the most expensive trips you will ever take.

Ambulances are staffed with EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) or paramedics, mostly EMTs. There are differences in the education level of EMTs and paramedics, with paramedics being more skilled. Yet, most of the emergency care responders are EMTs.

EMTs are skilled in basic non-invasive emergency procedures, but paramedics can perform invasive emergency procedures. Also, they can provide medication support in the field.

Emergency Medical Technicians are trained to give CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), place patients on oxygen, manage the intake levels, and help with basic traumatic injuries. They can also assist patients with diabetes to administer glucose in emergencies, acute allergic reactions, and those who have asthma.

Paramedics can do all that an EMT can do. However, paramedics have additional training to be licensed and thus able to perform medication administration, IV line placement. The extra training also provides paramedics with the ability to assist those with major traumatic injuries, resuscitate, and provide airway management.

There are two types of providers, public and private. Both have costs associated with transport in an emergency, but there is a difference. Knowing the difference may mean saving you some money. 


Private Providers

Private providers are generally called to help transport medical cases that are not in the middle of an emergency. These services are paid by fees that are charged to users of the service.

Tax money does not cover private provider services. 

FDNY Ambulance

Public Providers

Most 911 services use public providers for medical emergencies. These services are paid by users as well as supported by tax monies. Public providers can be staffed by volunteers, and they also hire a minimum number of actual employees.

If you have ever been in a situation where an ambulance ride was required, you likely didn’t stop and ask what the fee would be before you got inside. It wasn’t until the bill came that the shock of the expense hit.

Ambulance rides are often only a few short miles long. Still, they are more expensive than round-trip airfare to your favorite travel destination.


Know When to Call an Ambulance in mind that there are times when calling 911 is a necessity. Knowing when to call is essential. When the matter is life and death, don’t wait to make the call.

Calling 911 gives Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) the time to start needed medical care before arriving at the hospital emergency room. That is the most significant benefit of an ambulance ride.

The key to avoiding an ambulance ride is safety. This means ensuring safety in the home for seniors, taking safety precautions for children, and being smart while on the road.

Too often, the emergency system is taken advantage of. People call 911 for all types of non-medical emergencies that waste time and taxpayer money. Most 911 dispatch operators can tell numerous stories of irritating calls, with only less than ten percent of calls being actual emergencies.

Unfortunately, emergency calls involving elderly patients are usually emergencies. Falls in the bathroom and the shower are real, frequent occurrences. Bathroom safety for seniors is especially important in reducing life-threatening injuries in the home and eliminating the need for an ambulance.

If you are suffering from a non-life-threatening emergency and can drive safely, avoid the cost, and drive yourself. Know what to look for to determine the extent of the crisis.

Call a family member or a friend. Save yourself the expense for a simple sprained ankle. If you have the choice, call an Uber before you call an ambulance for a non-emergency, because it may save you thousands of dollars.

Additional Concerns of Ambulance Rides

I’m not sure if you have ever had an IV drawn in the back of a moving ambulance, but it is less than comfortable. Ambulance rides are quite bumpy in general. Some would argue riding in an ambulance is unsafe. Some feel the safety belts and seatbelts are not safe for those in the back.

There are thoughts that ambulances are at high-risk for accidents and materials stored in compartments thrown and dislodged. The safety standards for emergency vehicles are lax compared to other vehicles.

Ambulance drivers aren’t always the safest. The number of accidents among ambulances is significant. No one considers this when during an emergency. It is taken for granted that the person behind the wheel is an expert driver.

A significant concern is that even EMTs aren’t physicians. They work long hours as the first line of safety during emergencies, but EMTs have high turnover due to low pay and high instances of burnout. Their job is hard, and not many people stay in that career field long-term.

The job of an EMT can be dangerous, and its importance is often overlooked. These everyday heroes fight to save lives every day yet are assaulted and disrespected daily. They are part of the first line to enter dangerous situations (as on 9/11) and are expected to run in and risk their lives for the sake of others.

Much like caregiving, being an EMT is sometimes a thankless job.

Without a working system of emergency management, getting emergency healthcare would be much harder to come by. The instances of death for treatable acute illnesses would increase. Ambulance rides are necessary and a vital part of our healthcare system, despite the concerns and fees surrounding them. 

About the Author

Robyn Flint writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site,, and she is a licensed realtor with over seven years of experience helping buyers and sellers navigate the real estate market. Robyn is also a freelance writer and a published author.

About Carex Health Brands

Carex is your one-stop shop for home medical equipment and for products that assist caregivers with providing the best possible support and care for their loved ones. Carex Health Brands has been the branded leader in in-home, self-care medical products for over 35 years. Our goal is to improve the lives of our customers by bring them quality products that bring dignity back to their lives. With our three nationally distributed brands, Carex Health Brands serves national, regional and independent food, drug and mass retailers along with wholesalers, distributors and medical dealers.

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