A patient at St. Francis Hospital-Bartlett drove away Tuesday in an ambulance that was preparing to transport another patient.
The 31-year-old man, a patient from Lakeside Behavioral Health Center, drove off in an Emergency Mobile Health Care ambulance left running outside the patient discharge area.
Dispatchers with EMHC, using the ambulance's GPS, located the unit about 30 minutes later at Southwest Tennessee Community College's campus on Macon Road, said Michael Nolen, EMHC's vice president and chief administrative officer.
"We literally watched him drive down the street," Nolen said. The man was taken into custody by Memphis police, and the ambulance, valued at $150,000, returned to EMHC. Nolen said there was no damage to the vehicle, and no one was injured in the incident.
According to Bartlett police reports, officers were called to the hospital about 1:15 p.m. Tuesday. They were told while the man was there for a CT scan because of self-inflicted injuries he sustained hitting his head on the wall at Lakeside. About 10 minutes later, Jeffrey Roberts, the EMHC driver, noticed the ambulance he drove to the hospital was missing.
Nolen said ambulance companies leave units running when they are away from the vehicle because of the equipment on board and the necessity to maintain a temperature level, per state requirements.
Nolen said the man was not in the ambulance when it was found. "He went in to register for school," the ambulance executive said.
Southwest offers an emergency medical technology program for students seeking their EMT licenses. Asked if the man was registering for that class, Nolen replied: "He might have, but he won't be working for me."