Understand the Difference Between Vsl, Licensed Cab, Ambulance

The SAMU receives about 2,500 calls per day, according to the government website. In the vast majority of cases, medical transport is necessary. However, the ambulance is not the only vehicle that can transport patients. The VSL and the cab can also do it. What are the differences between these three means of transport?


A VSL or light medical vehicle is a means of medical transport reserved for patients who do not require special care throughout the journey. The vehicle is adapted for anyone who can travel in a seated position for hours: seniors, people with reduced mobility, or any patient with a minor pathology.

An ambulance driver or an ambulance assistant is at the wheel of this vehicle, equipped with first aid material. These types of equipment are necessary in case of need of immediate intervention.

Like the classic cabs, except for a few details, the VSL is different because of the presence of an ambulance driver capable of performing emergency care in case of necessity. Like the ambulance, the VSL is subject to a medical transport prescription; it must follow the rules of comfort and safety imposed. In addition, Social Security reimburses this prescription.

Here are the characteristics of the VSL, this vehicle:

  • Carries only three people;
  • Is noticeable by its white color and is imperatively decorated with a blue six-pointed cross;
  • Must be accredited by the regional health agency.

Licensed Cab

The taxicab is also a means of personalized seated transport (TAP). It is a classic cab that benefits from an agreement from the primary health insurance fund or CPAM. Thus, it is used as a traditional cab but can be transformed into a medical transport if necessary.

Like the VSL, it is not suitable for emergency transport. It is designed for primary and secondary transport. In other words, it is used to transport a patient from his home to a health center or to transfer him from one health facility to another for a check-up, a medical examination, or a treatment. Besides transporting first aid onboard the vehicle, the driver cannot provide first aid to patients.

The following are the characteristics of a licensed cab:

  • No specific qualifications are required for the driver;
  • The prescription of a licensed cab is left to the doctor who chooses it according to the patient’s pathology;
  • The number of people the cab can carry depends on its capacity;
  • A taxicab is similar to other conventional cabs;


There are two types of ambulances: the classic ambulance and the paramedical ambulance.

The first vehicle is a type A category C ambulance. It is equipped with portable oxygen and a complete primary medical device. It is only reserved for people with a benign pathology that is not likely to get worse in the following hours. In general, no care is provided on board this vehicle, as even the presence of a health professional is optional. There are two people on board: the first is an ambulance driver, and the second assists the patient.

The paramedic ambulance is used to transport patients in critical condition: following a stroke, a heart attack, or a tragic accident. It is designed to respond to emergencies. Also known as Type C and Category A ambulances, these vehicles are equipped with a full complement of intensive care equipment, including oxygen tanks and various emergency treatment devices.

The Ambulance - Paris-Nice 2018 Editorial Photography - Image of race,  paris: 138742562

The following are the characteristics of an ambulance:

  • The presence of a doctor or nurse depends on the patient’s condition;
  • This vehicle can transport a patient in a lying or sitting position;
  • It has a specific seat, a mattress shell, or anti-bedsore;
  • It is equipped for the movement of one patient only.

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