What are the different modes of medical transport?

Posted by Christian C. on 2017-03-08 21:19:42


East Coast Ambulance | Ambulance photo

[Updated 3/22/2018]


There are a variety of different types (sometimes called modes) of medical transportation. Modes differ based on whether the service is emergency or non-emergency as well as the client's condition or disability, and how far a distance must be traveled.

Most transport services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Medical transportation can take clients down the street, down state, across the country, or across the world. Below is a look at some of the different options in this wide-ranging service:


Local Ground Ambulance EMS

Staffed by EMTs or Paramedics trained in a variety of life-saving techniques, this mode is what most people normally think of when you say "ambulance." It's used to transport patients to hospitals during emergencies and to transport patients with psychiatric conditions.


Emergency Air Ambulance 

Covering long distances quickly (typically to Trauma Centers and ICUs), this mode uses helicopters and sometimes planes to transport patients in critical situations.




Non-Emergency Air Ambulance

Used for domestic and international travel, this mode is best suited for patients who are in stable condition, but need fairly involved transportation assistance --- and cannot for one reason another use ground transport.


Non-Emergency Ground Ambulance

NEMT is best suited for patients who can walk but may be ill or otherwise physically impaired. This service is covered by Medicare --- but only if the patient meets a certain set of strict criteria. The most types of non emergency ground ambulance trips are Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Life Support (ALS), and Specialty Care (SCT).


Public Transportation

Depending on which state you're in, there are a variety of different medical transport options available via public transit. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that all buses have lifts and restraints for wheelchairs, and some states offer a more advanced form of para-transit services.


wheelchair van transportation.jpg 


Wheelchair Van & Medical Car

This form of medical transportation is best suited for individuals who need some travel assistance/supervision but do not need the level of care of an ambulance. Becoming increasingly popular, wheelchair vans and medical cars take patients to doctor's appointments, on trips to run errands, visits to family and everything in between.


Shuttle Service

Many senior homes and adult living facilities offer shuttle services for clients in their care. This mode of transport is often ideal for seniors to go on day trips and for those who are in need of social interaction.



Additional resources:


Transportation Rights for People with Disabilities under the Americans with Disabilities Act


At East Coast Ambulance, we provide transport solutions for hospital networks, individuals, and families in Maryland and Delaware. If you have questions about any mode of transport, regardless of where you are, we are always here to help.

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