51-year-old Audrey Ferguson of Dorchester County, South Carolina, does not seem to like public transportation. According to authorities, she has taken an unconventional means of transporting herself to downtown Charleston: by ambulance. Ferguson has apparently been calling the county’s EMS, stating she needs to go to the hospital and then simply signing out once she gets there rather than being treated.
Obviously, since ambulance drivers and EMTs are not exactly able to question people who call 911 to report an emergency, she took the opportunity to use their services to her full advantage – 100 times. Dorchester County EMS Director Doug Warren stated that the staff had no choice but to respond:
“She’ll have a vague medical complaint, for instance abdominal pain. She has medical complaints that are legitimate, and so until she’s been evaluated and determined not to be sick we have to assume she is…
“We transport her to one of the area hospitals and then oftentimes before we can get our paperwork completed she’s signed out from the hospital and gone on to do other things.”
As Doug Barry over at Jezebel points out, there is an unwritten social contract (well, actually, it is sort of written): you simply do not use ambulances as taxis. It’s completely insensitive to the needs of those in actual emergencies and inconsiderate toward the employees involved in the medical field who are required to respond no matter what.
Eventually, though, the hospital and EMS staff grew sick of fronting the bill ($425 per ride!) for Ferguson’s happy ride downtown and took action. Upon her last visit, their was a deputy waiting for her at the hospital and she went proverbially downtown; now, she is facing charges of unlawful use of 911 and filing a false police report. According to Ferguson, she didn’t have a car, so this was the only way she could get around and that “Medicaid paid for it anyway.” But authorities say that if Medicaid can’t pay the whole bill — which is $400,000, by the way — then taxpayers will have to, and that doesn’t even include the potential health damages and lives she could have negatively affected with her behavior.