NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With ride apps like Uber and Lyft growing in popularity, people are relying on them more and more – even in emergencies.

As CBS2’s Tracee Carrasco reported Friday, some people are even choosing the apps over an ambulance.

“I had some internal bleeding, but I had been dealing with it for a few weeks,” said Chandra Steele of Little Neck, Queens.

Steele knew she needed to get to an emergency room, but she used Uber to request a car instead of calling 911 for an ambulance.

“Calling one might even take longer than an Uber,” Steele said. “Who knows in the city with traffic how long it takes to arrive?”

Driver Waquar Ash said he has seen it happen.

“Once this guy was all bloody and he jumped into my cab,” Ash said. “The ambulance must be pretty expensive if they’re taking Ubers.”

The high cost of an ambulance and convenience are two reasons Dr. Robert Glatter, a Northwell Health Lenox Hill Hospital emergency room doctor, said he is seeing the dangerous, growing trend in the ER.

“We’re seeing this all the time. I think people, first of all, want to get here quickly,” Glatter said. “People take Uber and other ride shares because of the cost. I mean, it’s a fixed cost. They know how much it is going to be before they book it versus a, say, $500, $1,000 bill that they’re going to get.”

The FDNY told CBS2 the average ambulance response time is six and a half minutes for serious calls – longer for those less serious.

Glatter said in some situations, you could be putting your life at risk if you choose a ride share over an ambulance.

“They have drivers in these ride shares. They don’t have paramedics, and that’s the important thing to understand — they can’t put an IV in you. They can’t administer oxygen. They can’t give you pain medication,” Glatter said. “Certainly if you have any signs of chest pain, or you’re having difficulty breathing, or you’re having a severe allergic reaction, you need to call 911.”

Uber told CBS2 while it is grateful their company has helped people get where they are going when they need it most, its service is not a substitute for law enforcement or medical professionals.


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