An ambulance is a vehicle for transportation of sick or injured people to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury, and in some instances will also provide out of hospital medical care to the patient. The word is often associated with road going emergency ambulances which form part of an emergency medical service, administering emergency care to those with acute medical problems.

The term ambulance does, however, extend to a wider range of vehicles other than those with flashing warning lights and sirens. The term also includes a large number of non-urgent ambulances which are for transport of patients without an urgent acute condition (see functional types, below) and a wide range of urgent and non-urgent vehicles including trucks, vans, bicycles, motorbikes, station wagons, buses, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, boats, and even hospital ships (see vehicle types, also below).

The term ambulance comes from the Latin word ambulare, meaning to walk or move about which is a reference to early medical care where patients were moved by lifting or wheeling. The word originally meant a moving hospital, which follows an army in its movements. During the American Civil War vehicles for conveying the wounded off the field of battle were called ambulance wagons. Field hospitals were still called ambulances during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870 and in the Serbo-Turkish war of 1876 even though the wagons were first referred to as ambulances about 1854 during the Crimean War.

There are other types of ambulance, with the most common being the patient transport ambulance (sometimes called an ambulette). These vehicles are not usually (although there are exceptions) equipped with life-support equipment, and are usually crewed by staff with fewer qualifications than the crew of emergency ambulances. Their purpose is simply to transport patients to, from or between places of treatment. In most countries, these are not equipped with flashing lights or sirens. In some jurisdictions there is a modified form of the ambulance used, that only carries one member of ambulance crew to the scene to provide care, but is not used to transport the patient. Such vehicles are called fly-cars. In these cases a patient who requires transportation to hospital will require a patient-carrying ambulance to attend in addition to the fast responder.

Read more about Ambulance:  History, Functional Types, Vehicle Types, Design and Construction, Appearance and Markings, Service Providers, Costs, Crewing, Military Use, Reuse of Retired Ambulances

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