At the beginning of the year Washington DC Fire and EMS (DC FEMS) brought in American Medical Response (AMR) in order to off load low priority EMS calls and decrease response time of FEMS units. Although the contract is temporary, early reports indicate a high call volume for the AMR units and effectively reducing DC FEMS transport volume in half.
Unfortunately, it still seems to not be enough. Early response times from AMR are not up to contractual requirements and DC FEMS are still running low on ambulances at certain times of the day. Honestly, while the data is good, I think it’s way to early to be either claiming victory or raising the white flag on the concept. For that matter, the fact these are supposed to be low priority patients, response times should have a grace period as more data is collected.
Washington DC was very progressive in addressing the issue by directly contracting with a commercial company and now it appears they’re going to be taking it a step further. The Washington Examiner and NBC Washington are reporting that DC FEMS is considering using Uber to transport some 9-1-1 callers. From the report:
Over recent months, there has been an increase in the number of uninsured residents who rely on city-subsidized transportation to get to non-emergency medical appointments.
“We are working with the health department to find other ways to transport people, such as using a contract taxi cab or Uber,” said D.C. FEMS Chief Gregory Dean. “We are trying to find creative ways to try to reduce the strain on the system.”
Of course, there is an acute irony in the statement regarding uninsured residents… considering who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and all that.
Using Uber in these types of circumstances as an alternative ambulance isn’t a terribly new or original idea. Jimmy Kimmel joked about it and then a shooting victim actually used it. Uber already has a program for mothers in labor AND babies have been named after the ride hailing app.
The use of Uber, or a service similar to it, by DC FEMS would be a first on many accounts. Of course while this is just a discussion with no solid plans of implementation, you can’t help but wonder just how long until someone actually DOES implement it.
Feel free to share your thoughts on using Uber for those non-emergent frequent fliers instead of an ambulance in the comments…