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Two new additions make Essex and Herts air ambulance fleet of rapid response vehicles totally hybrid

Crime / Mon 18th Dec 2023 at 01:34pm

IN a further step in its commitment to make the very best choices for the environment and reduce its carbon impact, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) has completed its move to a totally hybrid fleet of rapid response vehicles (RRV), by purchasing a further two Volvo XC90 Recharge plug-in hybrid SUVs.

The new additions join the two existing hybrid SUVs which were purchased by the life-saving charity in February 2022, when it became the first air ambulance in the UK to use Volvo plug-in hybrids as part of an emergency response fleet.

Again, purchased by EHAAT from Volvo UK, the new vehicles have been adapted by conversion and maintenance specialist, Halls Electrical Ltd, ready for life as an RRV. As well as being wrapped with EHAATs distinctive and highly reflective branding, the vehicles encompass the latest blue light system to enhance visibility and safety. A Woodway Legacy lightbar has been added along with additional forward-facing ION lamps and a Swedish Police specification low level front lightbar, making the lighting output and traffic clearing performance of these vehicles second to none.

Scott McIlwaine, Head of Aviation and Operations at EHAAT, has been leading on the acquisition process and said: “EHAAT’s decision to continue with the Volvo XC90’s was based on how they have continually proven themselves as high performing, reliable and safe vehicles.

“The continued positive feedback from all our crew since our move to Volvo, together with the stats showing that the Volvo XC90 continues to be one of the safest cars on the road, made things easier when deciding to take the step of moving to a totally hybrid RRV fleet.” 

As well as having operational advantages with regard to familiarity and spares, the move has started a trend, in which EHAAT is leading the way.

“Since integrating them into our fleet in 2018, a number of air ambulance trusts and ambulance services have approached us to enquire about the Volvos and have since followed suit,” Scott explained.

Rob Hughes, Technical Director at Halls Electrical said: “The XC90 T8 has been an extremely popular choice for the emergency services and based on this, the equipment available to convert these vehicles has been enhanced by the suppliers over the last few years.

“As well as what’s branding and blue light system, the control systems are integrated into the Volvo OE screen via Standby RSGs Central Stack Display System, negating the need the clutter the dash with keypads and the various mounting solutions required. Auxiliary Power is provided and maintained by Victron systems in the rear load area of the vehicle, to maintain protective lighting whilst the clinicians are at scene or during protracted incidents. 

“These RRVs are a visually stunning and high specification conversion, and our thanks go to EHAAT for the opportunity to work on these mission critical vehicles.”

The RRVs are crewed by a Pre-hospital Care Doctor and a Critical Care Paramedic and carry the same life-saving equipment as the helicopters. They are used once the aircraft shift is completed, or when the helicopter is unable to fly because of poor weather or maintenance. 

With quick and easy access to the new charging points that have been installed, the hybrid RRVs will now take up residence at EHAAT’s airbases at North Weald and Earls Colne, where they will serve the communities of Essex and Hertfordshire, providing advanced life-saving pre-hospital care directly to the side of patients with a sudden life-threatening injury or medical emergency.

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