911: Not a taxi service

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ALBANY, Georgia (WALB) – Any time an ambulance rolls out it’s serious business – a call to which paramedics are committed.

“We treat them all the same. We go out and check them out. If they need to go to the hospital, we take them to the hospital,” says Greg Rowe, the EMS Director in Dougherty County, Georgia.

The emergencies can vary from serious injury to general sickness, but there are a handful who abuse the service.

Police say that was the case Monday night when 27-year-old Ashley Nicole Jones called 911 requesting an ambulance. It turns out it was the 15th time since January she requested EMS services.

Dougherty County police questioned her and determined she only wanted the ambulance for a ride. It landed her in jail on charges of requesting EMS services when not needed.

Dougherty EMS director Greg Rowe says the types of calls aren’t frequent but with no choice but to respond, they’ve noticed caught on to how some are taking advantage of nothing more than a free ride.

“Before our guys leave the ER to get back on the street, the patient’s already left. That’s when we realize it might have been a 911 abuse case.”

Police say Jones, who’s made 10 calls to 911 this month alone has a history of being transported to the ER and then walking out of the hospital without seeing a doctor. Rowe says he will never discourage anyone from calling who needs help, but cautions abusing the service can be costly.

“It’s very costly. Financially it can be costly and once that’s trucks committed and something else happens in that territory, then another truck from further away has to come in.”

But just like Jones’ learned, an unnecessary request for a ride in an ambulance can easily turn into a free ride in the back of a police car. Rowe says Dougherty EMS handles about 22,000 calls a year.

Ninety-nine percent are legitimate but can cost upwards of 100 just operate an ambulance call depending on how far out the caller is located.

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