13 Investigates


Ridesharing risk? Study shows some people using Uber, Lyft instead of ambulances

Posted at 4:26 PM, Nov 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-09 03:01:53-05

A recent study found some people are using rideshare services like Lyft or Uber instead of an ambulance to get to hospital for medical attention due to cost.

WATCH the full story with Joe Bartels tonight at 11 P.M. on 13 Action News.

If there is such a thing as rideshare royalty then consider Uber driver Dave Carpenter king of the road.

"Over 10,000 rides -- combined between the two, about 13,500 rides and I have a 4.9 driver rating continuously for five years," said Carpenter.

That is among the top 5 for rides given in Las Vegas, according to Carpenter.

In a city like Las Vegas, he's pretty much seen or heard it all.

"You don't know if they have been drugged, drunk, or if they just died," said Carpenter.

"You can't touch them, you can't wake them up," added Carpenter about the terms and conditions that drivers must abide by.

"I've had that happen and I've had to summon 911 and the first thing out of the officer's mouth was 'Thank you, you did the right thing,'" added Carpenter.

Aside from those who had too much to drink, there are some who are electing to take a ride hailing service instead of an ambulance to the hospital.


According to a 2017 University of Kansas report, a nationwide survey of ambulance data revealed the ambulance rate of transports to hospitals declined an average of 7 percent when Uber entered a metropolitan area.

Multiple Lyft and Uber drivers confirm to 13 Action News they have transported passengers to local hospitals for a variety of reasons.

"I was very concerned for him and his safety," said one Uber driver who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

"I did question him once or twice if I should just pull over and call 911," he added.

That same driver adds he has taken up to a dozen people to emergency rooms out of the 4,000 rides he has provided across the Las Vegas valley.

"I tried intermittently to keep him talking," he added.

The ambulance rate report points to cost as a big reason people are using rideshare services over ambulances.

According to a US Government Accountability Office report, the median cost for ground ambulance transport was $429 nationwide.

The report noted the sample also included an ambulance ride which cost more than $2,200.

Compare that to the minimum UberX fare of $8.05 in Las Vegas.

"We are continuing to see our call volume increasing year over year," said Las Vegas Fire & Rescue Assistant Fire Chief Sarah McCrea.

"We have not noticed any particular decrease or slow down in the increase since [Uber or Lyft] entered the market," said McCrea.

Numbers provided by Las Vegas Fire & Rescue showed a big increase in ambulance transports to hospitals:

2018 to date – 23403
2017- 28268
2016- 29662
2015- 25401
2014- 24241
2013- 16373


Source: Las Vegas Fire and Rescue

Las Vegas fire officials point out the increase also reflects the department's changing response plans and transport expectations for crews.

"There is a time and a place for an EMS transport, just as there is a time and place for a private transport for a patient to the hospital," said McCrea.

Additional data from the Southern Nevada Health District shows across Clark County the number of transports have been on a steady rise:

2013                                       176,678
2014                                       184,920
2015                                       381,548
2016                                       212,676
2017                                       226,035                 
2018 to 10/31/2018        171,876


Source: Southern Nevada Health District

Southern Nevada Health District officials say the dataset does not include Mesquite and Boulder City, inter-facility transfers and some air ambulance transports.

Officials also note 2015 data appears to be anomalous due to unknown data errors. 

Lyft and Uber both have lunched medical-based rides for routine doctor visits and other non-emergency needs.



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