Trending: Is an Uber faster than an ambulance?

A recent Internet post proposes equipping Uber drivers with CPR training and an AED has many pondering if the mobile-app transportation service could save lives


In New York City, it takes an ambulance about six minutes to reach a caller in Manhattan, whereas it takes an Uber between two to three minutes, according to a post by Minqi Jiang on Medium.com

It begs a question that’s being asked across the web: Could Uber drivers equipped with an AED and four hours of CPR and defibrillator training improve cardiac arrest survival rates?

That’s what Jiang, along with Elite Daily, propose as a possible solution in areas that would benefit from faster ambulance response times. Jiang points out that in NYC, the response time is impacted by a complex 911 process that involves seven different systems working together to filter calls and dispatch appropriate public safety responders.

“The difference of three minutes between an ambulance and an Uber could mean life or death,” Elite Daily says.

Uber, a mobile-app based transportation network that allows users to submit a trip request that’s crowd-sourced to drivers, currently outnumbers the 13,587 taxis in NYC, Slate.com reports. 

With 14,088 drivers and growing, Jiang suggests Uber may be a viable alternative to calling for an ambulance:

“An Uber can now arrive on the scene several times faster than an ambulance. Even before the dispatch, Uber’s minimal, push-of-a-button interface also requires much less time and effort to request a vehicle than the alternative of dialing 911, waiting for an operator, and explaining the situation to the operator. This presents a major opportunity for Uber to advance the delivery of emergency healthcare: Properly trained Uber drivers could act as a fast vector of care delivery for certain medical conditions, while traditional, expert care is concurrently called upon as ’back-up.’”

A world-wide discussion

The Uber versus ambulance debate is not limited to New York.

In London, Business Insider reports the average Uber wait time is between three and four minutes, making it half the average time of London Ambulance Service’s target of eight minutes.

Jiang suggests Uber begin mandating all drivers carry an AED and go through the American Heart Association’s four-hour CPR and AED training course. He also proposes enabling vehicles with emergency lights and sirens, and sees room for growth:

“Consider the multitude of other acute medical conditions which require emergency care, such as allergy attacks that may lead to anaphylactic shock (deliver an EpiPen) or severe asthma attacks (deliver an inhaler),” he writes. “And as technology continues to improve, and emergency medical equipment becomes more and more operable by an average person, the first-aid kit that belongs inside every Uber should grow vaster, and the opportunity to save lives grows ever larger.”

Is Uber medflight next? 

Uber offers on-demand helicopter rides in Shanghai, New York, Cape Town, and Mumbai, reports Market Watch. Uber partners with a local helicopter service. First an Uber car driver takes the customer to the helipad. From the helipad the flight partner takes the customer on a flightseeing tour. It is probably just a matter of time until a passenger asks for the helicopter to drop them off at a hospital's landing pad.  

Do you think Uber has the potential to save lives? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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