Types of Ambulance & why is it vital to know the difference

Ambulance services

You have heard them wailing down streets, seen them snaking their way through heavy city traffic, but how many times have you tried identifying them? “Identify what? Aren’t they all the same?” If that question flashed through your mind just now, you are one among the thousands of others who did not know that ambulances differ from one another.

Yes, there are different types of ambulance services and each type is meant to tackle a certain kind of situation/emergency. However, people are basically more concerned about the emergency than vehicle type and, therefore, believe that every ambulance follows the same, monotonous design and has the same role to fulfill.

Before you learn about standard ambulance types, allow us to give you a proper definition of “what an ambulance stands for?

“An ambulance could be any kind of vehicle, equipped with basic or highly sophisticated life-supporting drugs and equipment, intended to administer instant medical care.”


Types of ambulance & what they specialize in

BLS Ambulance – Basic Life Support Ambulances are vehicles equipped with the basic life-supporting equipment, just like the name suggests. Usually, it would consist of patient bed, stretcher, BP monitor, and oxygen delivery devices. An attendant may or may not be available.

Specialization – BSLAs are best suitable for patients who are not in moderate condition and require instant medical transportation

ALS Ambulance – Advanced Life Support Ambulances are vehicles equipped with ECG, ventilator, incubator, defibrillators, nebulizer, IV supplies, oxygen delivery services, BP device, monitoring and various other advanced life supporting supplies. A paramedic or doctor is always available.

Specialization – Also called Emergency Ambulance, ASLAs are for critically injured or ill patients who need instant medical attention and should be transferred fast to a hospital under constant clinical monitoring.

PTV – Patient Transport Vehicle is a non-emergency, sufficiently-spacious, non-staffed ambulance that is equipped with patient bed and other minor life-supporting devices.

Specialization – Like the name suggests, PTV’s primary responsibility is to transfer patients who presumably are not in critical condition, but simply require mobility assistance to the designated care facility.

Train Ambulance – A long-distance ambulance transportation service where the vehicle is sufficiently stocked and equipped with ventilator, IV supplies, oxygen, ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) drugs, and other critical tools to support and maintain patient’s health for long duration. A nurse or a paramedic is always staffed.

Specialization – For patients who need transportation to medical centers not located locally.

Air Ambulance – This type of ambulance services includes well-equipped planes, choppers, and helicopters with trained nurses and doctors to provide immediate medical assistance to the patient as well as transportation to the nearest hospital.

Specialization – A quick and superfast solution for those who either do not want to waste a second in reaching the designated healthcare facility or are located in areas that cannot be accessed by land-based ambulance services.

Mortuary Ambulance – A regular ambulance equipped with bed, scoop stretchers, and an attendant.

Specialization – Mortuary ambulance services are mainly used to transport dead bodies.


Why you must understand the difference?

Prices vary for each different ambulance service

Consider the following fictional scenario: You needed ambulance service one fine day to transport someone in your family to the nearest hospital. You called and tried booking one. When asked what type of ambulance you would prefer, you hastily replied, ‘any’. An ALSA (Advanced Life Support Ambulance) was dispatched to your destination.

Even though the job was of a PTV, which is moderately priced as compared to ALSA, you went for the latter and paid more.

It is a general misconception that all ambulances charge the same. As a matter of fact, every distinct ambulance type has its own unique tariff. The more sophisticated and well-equipped the ambulance, the higher will be the charges.

You will save yourself from unnecessary expenses

Knowing your ambulance type will ensure that you will select the right ambulance for the relevant emergency need. As a result, you will not end up hiring expensive ambulances for non-emergency situations.

Your ambulance will be dispatched fast

Although ambulances are always ready for action, the dispatch-time often depends on the type. For instance, it might take longer to prep a Train Ambulance or ALSA as compared to a regular PTV.

Henceforth, you will know which type of hospital transport you need to call when you need a faster pick-up.


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