Next Generation Ambulance – Update
Despite horrendous weather predictions, members of the Vehicle Development team were able to visit the WAS Specialist Vehicle factory with regard to our next generation ambulance. The purpose of the visit was to check on the progress being made, to ensure the vehicle was compliant with our specifications and where necessary to authorise any minor or cosmetic changes.
As reported previously, the new ambulance will incorporate crucial features that will improve the welfare and safety of the crew as well as improving the overall patient experience. The production team have created an excellent vehicle and minimal alterations were required to ensure that it meets the expectations of our clinicians and patients.
The new design was created from the ground upwards and with a blank paper rather than trying to improve the current ambulance. The Trust set out to establish what was wrong with the present vehicle and what could be done to create a safer, reliable, more efficient and interoperable ambulance that would also be compliant with UK road traffic law.
Over the past two years the specification was created, employees were consulted with and four different concept designs were eventually produced. Two were van conversions and two were coach-built models. Employees across the region were able to view them at base stations or hospitals and where possible crews were able to operate the concept ambulances on the road as part of their shift in order to gain valuable, realistic feedback.
After the consultation and taking onboard the feedback from employees, the final design was agreed upon. This included the incorporation of some aspects from the other vehicles in order to create the best possible ambulance
The base vehicle is a Fiat with manual gearbox which has the added benefits of cruise control for driver comfort on longer journeys. The MDT is sited on the dashboard and has a fold-down facility to enable the crew to access the entertainment radio system. The cool box has been retained to enable crews to keep their food at optimum temperatures.
The crew doors have been fitted with curtesy down-lights which will illuminate the ground outside the cab when alighting and a robust stowaway shelf has been included as additional clinical workspace in the rear patient saloon area.
The stowage location for the primary response bags is accessed via the side sliding door and to allow for variations & changes in bag dimensions it was agreed to delete the shelves to provide flexibility.
The two forward facing seats in the patient saloon area had minor adjustments made to their locations and this will ensure that whilst “seated and belted” the clinicians will be able to continue with overall patient care while the vehicle is in transit. The aim here is to reduce the risk of staff sustaining injury as a result of moving around the vehicle unrestrained which is a major safety improvement.
The rear facing seat will allow the clinician to manage the patient’s airway and all three seats will ensure 360 access to the centrally located patient. The critical care equipment is located close at hand and the monitoring equipment can be viewed from all three seats.
The IPC consumables have a dedicated stowage locker and the nearside internal wall will have the clinical wipes, paper towels and hand gel sited together. The piped oxygen system has been removed and this will remove the risk of fire or explosion being supported. Smaller and adequate oxygen cylinders will ensure sufficient oxygen is available for patient support. A dedicate crew PPE / personal kit locker is located on the forward bulkhead.
By selecting a lower chassis and increasing the internal height, the design provides for easier access and taller people will not have to stoop when standing in the rear patient saloon area. I am convinced that our new ambulance creates a safer workplace for our clinicians and sets a challenging benchmark to other ambulance designs.
East of England Ambulance Unison
Branch Health & Safety Officer
11 March 2019