Emergency Myths: Common Misconceptions About Ambulances and ERs

Myth: Ambulances are for Emergencies Only

Paramedics wheeling patient in hospital parking lot
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Ambulances are used throughout the medical field to transport patients to many different types of facilities. Ambulances not only respond to emergency scenes, they take patients from convalescent hospitals to doctor visits and treatment centers. Any bedridden patient has needed an ambulance to transport them.

Some areas use a similar form of transportation called a "gurney van." Gurney vans do not have an attendant in the back with the patient during transport and the driver of the van is not trained as an emergency medical technician.

Myth: Ambulance Patients Get Priority in the Emergency Department

Emergency departments prioritize patients based on medical severity. It's called triage. The most severe patients will be treated first. Some folks erroneously believe that calling an ambulance will put them ahead of the line. Emergency departments across the country are so crowded many of them have begun placing ambulance patients in the waiting room when the patients are not that severe. So no matter what type of vehicle gets you to the emergency department, you may still have to wait.

Myth: Ambulances Can Only Transport

Many folks think ambulances only provide a ride to the hospital. In reality, ambulances provide some of the same lifesaving care that patients in emergency rooms will receive. There are ambulances across the nation providing diagnostic services and some very advanced drug therapy, including clot-dissolving drugs.

The next time you see an ambulance screaming by you with its lights flashing and siren blaring, remember that some pretty amazing lifesaving treatment may be happening in the back.

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