Ambulance Transportation

If a patient requires transportation to a hospital, a private ambulance contractor is used.  If the medical emergency requires advanced life support, the Santa Monica Fire Department Paramedic will accompany the patient in the ambulance. We’ve listed some of the most frequently asked questions and answers below. 
  1. Why A Private Ambulance?
    AmeriCare is SMFD’s contracted ambulance company.  Since paramedics were first deployed in Santa Monica in 1974, the fire department has provided the Advanced Life Support (ALS) and a contracted ambulance has provided the transport (ride to the hospital).  While the private ambulance company providing this transport has changed several times over the past 35 years, this response/transport matrix has remained constant.  This allows our fire companies (paramedics) to get back into service quicker and be available for the next response.
  2. How/why they’re taken to certain Hospital?
    SMFD tries to accommodate a patient’s request to a specific hospital, even in cases when the request is to a facility other than the closest ER.  Of course, there are exceptions.  Patients will be transported to a facility (other than the patient’s request) based on several other factors:
    • Need for Specialty Center, like a trauma center (critical injuries) or STEMI receiving facility (heart attack)
    • If patient requests a facility that is on ED diversion due to saturation (overcrowding)
    • If the patient is in extremis, like an uncontrolled airway or uncontrolled bleeding, they are always transported to the closest ED
  3. Who rides with them?
    Typically one family member or friend can ride to the hospital with the patient.  Normally the family member or friend will ride in the passenger seat, up front.  This way they can be properly secured with a seat belt.  In addition, this allows the paramedics to work on the patient without the interference of the family or friend.  One exception is if we are transporting a small (often frightened) child.  Typically the mother or father will ride in the back of the ambulance to the ED.
  4. Billing?
    Rates charged for transport are established by LA County DHS.  Patients transported from a location in Santa Monica actually receive two bills, one is for the transport and is generated by Gerber Ambulance.  The second is for the ALS response and is sent by Santa Monica EMS.  The total of these bills is the same as what a patient would receive on a single bill outside of Santa Monica.  We charge no more than other cities, it’s just divided into two invoices.
  5. A bit about rights?
    Patients do have rights when it comes to ambulance transports.  For example, the patient can refuse treatment and transport by signing an AMA (against medical advice).  In cases where the patient is unable to speak for themselves, there is something called “implied consent”.  This means that a reasonable person in the same situation, say unconscious would request treatment and transport.  Patient’s also have the right to request private transport.  A friend or family member can take the patient to the ED.  Only used in cases where the patient has not received or is in need of ALS treatment.
  6. What can they ask for or receive?
    Beyond what has already been stated, there isn’t much that the patient can request.
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