Fresno ambulance a pricey taxi ride for 'frequent fliers'

Two homeless men in Fresno have called for an ambulance an average of nearly twice a day for more than a year, racking up hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs and even more when they get to a hospital.

They are Fresno County's highest-volume ambulance users -- "frequent fliers" as they are called in the business -- and their 1,363 combined trips made up 1.34% of all American Ambulance calls in the county last year.

"I call all the time," Cesar Arana, 41, said while sitting on a bus-stop bench downtown. "I have a major problem with my liver."

Lonzel McPeters, 51, has seizures and says he grows concerned when he senses one coming on.

"I'd be having seizures on a regular basis," said McPeters, wearing a neck brace to stabilize a broken C-7 vertebrae after a January seizure. "I call when I feel like I'm having seizures."

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.

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