New electric rapid response vehicles are set to hit the road as part of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust fleet.
The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) is trialling two electric Skoda all-wheel drive cars and an electric Vauxhall van, which have been converted to response vehicles.
The Skoda Enyaq iV 80x all-wheel vehicles have already been put to the test by EEAST driving instructors and found to compare favorably with current diesel-powered models.
One of the Skodas will be used as a “standard” RRV, used for paramedics to get to patients quickly, but not used to transport patients.
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The second will be used in a similar role in conjunction with the trust’s other blue-light partners (RAF, fire and police), initially in Bedfordshire, but later in Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Essex, as different programs and infrastructure configurations are tested.
The Vauxhall Vicaro-E van will be trialled in various roles, including a falls response vehicle and a mental health response vehicle.
Tom Abell, chief executive of EEAST, said: “The NHS has committed to being net-zero of carbon emissions by 2045.
“As a healthcare service that travels to our patients, the implications for that will be wide-ranging as our entire fleet will have to eventually move away from internal combustion engines.
“Initial trials have shown that with the right vehicles, infrastructure and systems, electric vehicles can be used without impacting on operational performance – or, most importantly, patient safety.
“We are therefore very pleased to take part in this pathfinder scheme, which will not only help us trial the latest electric vehicles, but also enable us to start installing the electrical infrastructure that will ensure we are ready for the future.”
The £250,000 NHS England funding for the trial includes money to install charging infrastructure.
EEAST already has 7kw chargers at a number of its sites including Hellesdon, Luton, Barton Mills, Peterborough, Kings Lynn, Chelmsford, Watford, Great Yarmouth and Stowmarket.
EEAST also has a payment card system which allows charging at commercial charging sites.
The funding will allow the introduction of 22kw chargers in Bedfordshire and Essex.