December 11, 2017

Animal Ambulance Services

Whether for emergencies or pet transport, being affiliated with a veterinary ambulance service can be a boon to your business.
By Don Vaughan
How Veterinarians Benefit
For veterinarians, the benefits of working with an animal ambulance service can be many, transport owners say. Not only do the services deliver patients to their door, but technicians and other personnel can provide a preliminary set of eyes on the patient, its owners, and the home environment, conveying to doctors information and insight that can have an important impact on patient care.

“It’s important for veterinarians to understand that we are an extension of their services,” observed Montes. “We take an assessment of the situation, get a complete medical history, and call the veterinary hospital en route to let them know what is coming in so they can be prepped and ready.”

Practices also benefit by hiring ambulance services to take critically ill patients to nearby emergency or specialty facilities, added Berg. “In the past, they used to have the owner drive the animal to the emergency clinic,” he explained. “Now they have the option of continued care in an ambulance. Oxygen, IV fluids, pain meds, and more can all be delivered during transport.”

Noted Brady, “This can be an income generator for a veterinary clinic. We have a lot of practices that want to be associated with us because it gives them that extra specialty of service.”

A small number of veterinary practices have their own ambulance transport service. Among them is WestVet Emergency and Specialty Center in Garden City, Idaho, which uses its ambulance primarily to transport patients from other veterinary facilities, said Dan Hume, DVM, DACVIM, DACVECC, chief of emergency and critical care at WestVet. WestVet employs its ambulance infrequently—maybe once every couple of weeks—but Dr. Hume acknowledged the value that offering such a service can bring to a practice.

“From a marketing standpoint, it’s great because the ambulance is a visible thing that has our name on the side of it,” Dr. Hume reported. “We also utilize it for a lot of special events, such as pet expos and open houses. Kids get to tour the ambulance and spend time on it. So from a business marketing perspective, it is a very good tool. From a medical standpoint, the ambulance allows us to transport very sick patients and get them in the hands of our team of specialists, which hopefully means a positive outcome for those patients.”

Looking to the Future
The future of veterinary ambulance services is difficult to predict. There definitely is a need, said Berg, but the survival of such services is often predicated on the economy. When times are good, people are more inclined to spend money on their pets; when times are bad, dif cult choices often must be made. “I think those who have the means will continue to use veterinary transport services,” Berg said, “but the economy is an important factor.”

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