In the Philippines, ambulance transport services are either private or government supported. The quality of medical attention, service standards and costs are generally higher in for private ambulance services.
The Department of Health, a government regulatory authority, classifies ambulances into Type 1 and Type 2 categories.
If a Type 1 ambulance is activated to scene, expect medical attendants with some medical knowledge and experience to render up to basic life support.
On the contrary, Type 2 ambulances must have a licensed or Registered Nurse (RN) as required by The Philippines Department of Health. This mandatory requirement allows Type 2 ambulances to provide additional treatment options under Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS).
There are at least 10 well known ambulance services (including government owned / operated) in the country.
Though not all providers provide emergency services, the minimum level of service expected by the public is met by Type 1 ambulances.
All ambulance operators need to be regulated by the Department of Health under License to Operate (LTO) after having been audited and shown that the organisation has met the prerequisites required.
Basic life support is the minimum expectation of ambulance organisations. You can expect at least two medical attendants and a stretcher bed in each ambulance. These basic ambulance functionalities are nearly universal to the entire country (including rural towns).
You can expect better service with established ambulance operators. Concentrated in the densely populated, urban city centres such as Manila and Cebu, these ambulance operators offer their pre-hospital medical services to the general public and allow reservations for the elite few.
Patients, having used privatised emergency medical services have reportedly experienced better outcomes early on.
Contacting ambulance services can be done through traditional, normal phone calls. To call an ambulance, follow these steps listed here. For government ambulances, you can text them at the same number and you will receive a written response.
The public ambulance number for The Philippines is 911.
The number connects you to the public Emergency Network of Philippines. You can call for the ambulance, police and fire emergency services with the same number.
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The private ambulance numbers depends on the organisation you are contacting.
While some providers only provide basic patient transportation, other providers are equipped with tertiary equipment like oxygen and ventilators to support the patient through an extended journey.
For advanced services, bookings may be required and follow up confirmation via email, Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp. These apps are insanely popular and pervasive in the country, even in professional settings.
No, ambulances are not free of charge.
For travellers, most travel insurance cover international ambulance evacuation fees within the policy wording.
From 500 Philippine Peso to 1500 Pesos (USD 10 to 30). You can expect charges to be greater during peak response periods such as Christmas and on national holidays. Night fees can apply on certain days.
Fees for emergency calls are waived if the patient cannot afford it. Fees are also waived (case-by-case) in emergency situations or involving accidents.
A nominal fee may be levied if ambulances are called to respond to non emergencies. Enforcement action is common for prank calls and the authorities spare no thought in prosecuting stunt-pullers.
Costs apply if you call private ambulance providers. Charges start from 2000 Pesos (USD 40) and fees can balloon if the patient condition deteriorates. In these worsened situations, additional fees apply for medical treatment onboard this moving medical machine.
Medical services are charged on an ala-carte basis. Detailed price lists are supplied by individual organisations. The costs can vary greatly.
In populated areas, public and government ambulances are attached to hospitals (PGH, for example) and fire stations located throughout the city.
Response times range from 5 minutes on the low end to 15 minutes typically. Ambulances have been seen to patrol in places of interests to increase the speed of response.
For example in Pasay, a crowded International Convention Center will attract many foreign visitors while Star City amusement park just next door tends to have lots of families and children during the weekends.
Within Pasay, the U.S. and Japan embassies are key landmarks. Ambulances tend to be deployed near the areas to enable rapid response should a high value target or mass casualty occur in those areas. On the outside of the ambulance, lights will be switched off during patrols so as to not cause unnecessary alarm.
In Philippine General Hopsital (PGH) and Tondo Medical Center, emergency medical services (EMS) ambulances are placed on standby 24 hours 7 days a week.
Philippine General Hopsital (PGH) is Philippines’ flagship medical institution.
Boasting over 1500 beds and known to be the pride of the nation, PGH is the largest hospital. Extensive in the medical field, the PGH has 15 subspecialties ranging from orthopaedic and cardiology to paediatrics and psychology.
Tondo Medical Center is a good alternative. Should you be constrained by distance, Tondo is a great choice to seek healthcare.
Like PGH (above), Tondo has a reasonable share of experienced medical practitioners. Further outpatient specialist appointments can similarly be arranged and treatment are done within Tondo itself.
San Lazaro Hospital (SLH) specialises for communicable diseases. With less than half of the bed capacity compared to PGH, SLH mainly accepts suspected cases of disesase-compromised patients.
National Center for Mental Health (Pambansang Sentro ng Pangkaisipang Kalusugan) takes in patients who are deemed mentally unsound by law enforcement or their families.
Regular patients facing trauma or medical injuries such as fever, fractures or breathing difficulties should not proceed to NCMH.
Air ambulance companies are among the elite medical service. Not to be taken lightly, only a handful private organisations offer this service.
There are two main modes of transport – private charter aircraft or by commercial jet.
You may wish to write in via email to the individual air ambulance companies to enquire more.
Of the more reputable air ambulances, you may also consider to search for local ambulance companies at your destination. For example if you are flying from The Philippines to Singapore, you can consider contacting or calling a Singapore Ambulance company who can arrange the entire journey. Land to Air (in PH), Air to Air (PH to SG) and Air to Land (in SG) to your designated destination.
Patient transfer involves the safe movement of the injured to an advanced care medical facility (such as a hospital) as quickly as possible.
Ambulances in Manila have the fastest response time. In the city, a well built and extensive road network allows the people access to ambulance services quickly. Calling 911 in Manila usually activates an emergency ambulance to the scene in under 15 minutes. The level of accessibility to first aid and healthcare made available to the urbanised population is higher than the national average.
Not all hospitals in Philippines are similarly equipped. Major trauma centres and General Hospitals are great options for continued treatment.
Emergency response units may not always accede to requests to these specific hospitals due to the constraints of time and manpower.
Most crew in the ambulance do not have advanced training. Therefore, the ambulance equipment are unlikely to be extensive or advanced as the staff are not certified to use them.
This post was last modified on March 17, 2021 5:46 pm