Ambulances across the Midlands will be driven on cold weather tyres this winter to after being impressed by their safety credentials.
Both the West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) and East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) will use Michelin’s Agilis Alpin and Alpin 4 ranges across their fleets – a total 530 ambulances and 308 rapid response cars.
The decision comes after the neighbouring trusts’ fleet managers compared standard tyres with cold weather tyres at a test day at the MIRA track in Warwickshire.
Results showed that on a slippery surface similar to ice and snow, Agilis Alpin tyres reduced ambulance braking distances by more than half. Drivers from both services also reported significant improvements in traction and steering response.
Graham Cann, WMAS Regional head of fleet, said: “I was aware of the potential of cold weather tyres for cars in general, but we were keen to test them on our ambulances. The difference in braking distance and handling was quite remarkable.
“We have had two harsh winters with lots of snow and ice and to assist in the delivery of patient care we had been using snow socks to get around. While the snow sock is an absolutely fantastic tool we believe going on to winter tyres will enhance the vehicles’ ability to get to their destinations in a safe manner, therefore giving the patients a better chance of receiving the treatment and care they need.
“For some of our patients every second counts. If by using cold weather tyres it reduces journey times to these patients by even 30 seconds, it could be the difference between life and death; that has got to be something worth doing.”
Although WMAS was an existing Michelin customer, EMAS had been using a different tyre supplier.
Steve Farnsworth, EMAS fleet general manager, said: “We had been interested in using cold weather tyres for some time and after seeing the Michelin tests there was no doubt that these are the tyres for us.
“They are not just a snow and ice tyre, the shorter stopping distance is also very noticeable in the slush and wet, plus handling on the dry track in cold weather was impressive too.”
He added: “The last couple of winters have seen severe weather conditions across the East Midlands which has put pressure on our service and our ability to reach patients quickly.
“We managed to reach patients despite the weather but the use of cold weather tyres on our vehicles will help us get there a little bit more promptly and safely. As an ambulance service, we are always looking for new ways to improve safety for our crews and patients.”
Both fleets will be fitted with Michelin cold weather tyres by fast-fit specialist ATS Euromaster during October and early November, as the tyres’ performance benefits become apparent when temperatures drop below seven degrees Celsius.
Every summer tyre removed by ATS Euromaster will receive a thorough safety inspection before being carefully stored for the winter, ready for re-fitting by the mobile tyre technicians during late March and April 2012. The part-worn cold weather tyres will then receive the same comprehensive safety inspection before being stored for the following winter.