Because the men don't pay for the rides, the bulk of the costs is passed on to others in the form of higher insurance rates. Taxpayers pick up part of the tab through Medi-Cal and other government programs.
Some in the industry say the two are abusing the system, using it as a free taxi service. But the men, who are friends, say they're just trying to get to a hospital for treatment of their chronic illnesses.
Calling 911 when there is no emergency is a crime and there is no law saying the men must be brought to a hospital, but ambulance officials err on the side of caution. They fear liability lawsuits such as a 1979 case in which a sick man called for an ambulance, was not picked up and died.
"We do not refuse any service," said Dan Lynch, Fresno County's emergency medical services director. "If they want to go to the hospital, we will take them. It's easier to take them than to take the time to talk them out of it."
Calling in sick
In 2011, Arana called an ambulance 710 times and McPeters 653 times. In the first 41 days of 2012, they have combined for 136 calls.
Sometimes the men call an ambulance, are brought to a hospital and walk away if they have to wait too long. Then they'll call 911 for a return ride later.
Lynch's office has sent notices to the men, demanding they stop abusing the 911 system. After sending one such notice to Arana last year, Lynch said, his office got an angry phone call from Arana.
In a taped phone conversation with Lynch's office, Arana is heard saying he didn't abuse the system and threatened to call his lawyer.
Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/02/11/...#storylink=cpy