A good Samaritan who called an ambulance after a man was hit by a car is angry that her private details were forwarded to a debt collection firm seeking payment for the emergency call-out.
Jenna (surname withheld) was riding her bike to work in Melbourne in March when she saw the man get hit.
No-one stopped to help so, being trained in first aid, she went back and called triple zero from her mobile.
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The man, named Will, was in shock and pain and was too frightened to go to hospital, Jenna told ABC Radio Melbourne.
“I guess the first thing I noticed though was that this person looked like he’d been homeless for a pretty significant period of time and he was very polite but he looked very unwell,” she said.
“I was pretty worried about his state of health and wellbeing.
“Will refused [to go to hospital]. I guess he knew a bit more about the way things work than I do.
“I just assumed he wouldn’t be paying for things. He was homeless and therefore he’d be looked after.”
A few months later she was contacted at home and on her mobile by Australian Receivables Limited (ARL), a company which offers a range of debt collection services.
“I heard this really strange message about calling a debt collection agency Australian Receivables Limited and I thought that’s really odd,” she said.
“About an hour later my mobile rang and it was Australian Receivables Limited and they wanted to talk to me about an invoice that was due to Ambulance Victoria.”
‘Not ethical to chase debts from homeless people’
Jenna said on the second call she threatened the company with legal action.
“At that point I got a bit cranky. I said this is completely inappropriate. I’m really distressed you’ve called me on my home number … and now you’re calling me on my mobile.”
Jenna said it was “unethical and outrageous” to chase a homeless person for medical debts and it was a breach of privacy for Ambulance Victoria to pass her details to ARL.
“I feel homeless people shouldn’t be charged for ambulance call outs and I don’t think good Samaritans or passers-by should be followed up and their private details should be shared.”
Speaking on ABC Radio Melbourne, Mick Stevenson, the executive director of emergency operations from Ambulance Victoria, apologised.
“Jenna’s got every right to be incredibly frustrated and disappointed because it’s wrong,” he said.
“They called to identify if Jenna is responsible for the bill. She’s not responsible for the bill so that should’ve been the end of the matter.
“What’s happened after that is not procedure.”
Ambulance Victoria is now investigating the incident.