West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) has taken delivery of the first batch of its new front-line ambulances, built upon the Fiat Ducato Maxi van.
In total West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust has ordered 101 Ducato vehicles for conversion into front-line ambulances, as well as an additional two vehicles for driver-training unit conversions.
The ambulances are based on long wheelbase, extra-high roof, long body, Ducato Maxi vans, powered by 180hp, 3.0 MultiJet Power engines and fitted with a high output alternator to assist with the electrical load required and alloy wheels to assist with heat dissipation from the brakes during high-speed emergency calls.
The extensive conversion from van to ambulance is completed by O&H Vehicle Conversions, Goole, and takes approximately 400 man hours to complete. A special rear air suspension is fitted and the interior is kitted out with purpose-built cabinetry to accommodate the specialist, life-saving medical equipment, with approximately one mile of electrical wiring added to the vehicle to provide power to extensive range of crucial ancillary items.
The last five vehicles off the production line will trial solar panels on the roof to assist with battery charging, thereby improving the efficiency and lowering the running costs of the ambulance.
All WMAS ambulances conform to European Whole Vehicle Type Approval Standards.
The ambulance service’s 360-strong fleet of ambulances is expected to cover a total of 15,000,000 miles in 2015.
WMAS has been operating the Fiat Ducato in front line ambulance operation for a number of years and by the time the last of the 101 new units are delivered, two thirds of its entire ambulance fleet (240 of 360 vehicles) will be Fiat Ducato based.
Tony Page, general manager - fleet services with West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The Ducato provides the Trust with platform to build a front line ambulance that provides a good working space for our clinical colleagues to deliver a high level of patient care, the 3.0 diesel engine is more than capable of getting the vehicle and crew to serious incidents in a timely manner, good dealer support and fuel economy are also an important aspect of the FIAT Ducato’s offering. Early signs with the first 40 units of the latest model Ducato in operation are they are step change improvement for us, feedback from our crews so far has been very positive.”
Sebastiano Fedrigo, jead of brand, Fiat Professional UK, added: “To be chosen by an organisation as exacting as the West Midlands Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust to supply vehicles which, day-in-day-out, will provide life-saving care to thousands of people across the West Midlands is both hugely gratifying and extremely humbling. We’re honoured to play our part in the fantastic work being done by WMAS and we take huge pride in the fact that our vehicles were chosen for their performance, efficiency, reliability and versatility.”