£4m funding to allow communities to deliver better transport services
The South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) has based a series of new and innovative vehicle concepts on all three models from the award-winning Mercedes-Benz Vans range.
SECAmb, which serves Kent, Surrey and Sussex, has long-standing links with the three-pointed star – its 300 A&E ambulances are based on 5.0-tonne Sprinter chassis cabs while it also assigns Mercedes-Benz vehicles to other tasks such as non-emergency patient transport and logistical support.
Over the final quarter of 2014 Dealer Rossetts Commercials supplied SECAmb with 30 Euro VI-engined Sprinter 519 CDIs with automatic transmissions and Wilker box bodies, ordered through its ongoing, annual front-line fleet replacement programme.
This time, though, Rossetts has also delivered a number of additional vehicles, which have been commissioned by the Trust’s Fleet Operations and Driving Standards departments for new roles. These include:
- Four critical care ambulances based on the same chassis and body combination as the standard accident and emergency units, but with additional equipment for treating the most seriously ill patients,/li>
- Thirty-seven 2.8-tonne Vito 116 CDI Dualiners with second rows of seats and purpose-built interiors allowing patients to be treated for minor wounds and injuries rather than being taken to hospital, which are being allocated to specialist paramedic practitioners as a more practical and efficient alternative to a conventional fast response car
- Five 4.0-tonne Sprinter 419 CDI vans now operating as SECAmb’s first dedicated Driver Training Units, which have been specially converted and fitted with an array of cameras and high-tech telematics equipment to complement and increase the learning experience
- Three Logistics Support Units also based on Sprinter 419 CDI vans and used to transport medical equipment and pharmaceutical supplies between hospitals and other establishments
- 14 Compact 109 CDI models from the Citan small van range, which SECAmb is trialling for the first time with a view to using for logistics support and, possibly, providing to community-based ‘first responders’.
Justin Wand, SECAmb’s Head of Fleet Operations, said: “We have switched from a ‘one size fits all’ vehicle strategy, to an approach which recognises that the fleet should reflect the changing clinical requirements of our patients and the specialisms within our workforce.
“We already know from long experience that on a whole-life cost basis, taking account of factors such as fuel economy, reliability and maintenance, Mercedes-Benz products represent better value than those of its competitors.”
South East Coast Ambulance Service employs over 3,200 staff, 85% of whom are on operational duties, working from a network of 70 sites across Kent, Surrey and Sussex.