New era of greener ambulances caring for patients in London
The first fully electric ambulance to respond to emergency 999 calls in London went out on its maiden voyage on New Year’s Eve.
As the capital saw the arrival of 2024, Paramedic Telma Ricardo Guerreiro and Emergency Medical Technician Taylor Forde, went out on a night shift from Oval Ambulance Station helping patients around Clapham, Peckham and Brockley in the brand new, first-of-its-kind electric Ford ambulance.
Among the many people they raced to care for in the lightweight vehicle was a patient with chest pains, a young person suffering a mental health crisis and someone who rang 999 when they began coughing up blood.
The new bespoke ambulances are part of London Ambulance Service’s ambition to drive towards a net zero fleet, reducing operational costs incurred from fuel and maintenance, as well as improving air quality for Londoners to help reduce the prevalence of major diseases in the capital.
Taylor said: “It was very exciting taking out this special vehicle for the first time ever on New Year’s Eve. There’s a lot more space in the back, it drives a lot more smoothly and it really helped us get patients in and out of the ambulance more efficiently. The new features, especially the trolley bed system, enabled us to manage patient care better.”
The new vehicles are lightweight and include more accessible features for crews to convey patients with a powered trolley bed system, a powered carry chair and an integrated scanning system that scans the vehicle and informs the crews whether the ambulance is fully stocked after each patient they’ve treated.
Daniel Elkeles, Chief Executive at London Ambulance Service (LAS), said: “This is a game changer for ambulance designs across the world.
“We’ve had electric patient transport vehicles and support vehicles, but until now we haven’t had an electric ambulance responding to life-threatening emergencies in London.
“Not only will these ambulances help us deliver outstanding care to our patients, they are critical to our efforts to cut our environmental impact and play our part improving London’s air quality.”
The vehicles create zero emissions at the tailpipe, which means they are better for the environment.
Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “It’s brilliant to see London Ambulance Service leading the way with London’s first fully electric emergency ambulance. This new vehicle will enable paramedics to deliver first class care to thousands of patients whilst also improving air quality and reducing harmful, toxic emissions in the capital.
“I have a bold ambition for London to reach net zero carbon by 2030 and London Ambulance Service, with the largest net zero fleet of emergency vehicles in the UK, is playing its part in helping us to build better, greener London for everyone.”
As part of its ambitious programme to renew its fleet with greener vehicles, LAS are working with hospitals in the capital, including Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital and Kings College Hospital, to provide high-powered electric vehicle charging ports so crews can charge their vehicles at hospitals. LAS also now has 56 charging stations at ambulance stations for their electric vehicles.
The electric ambulances are the latest addition to the largest emergency fleet of fully-electric vehicles in the country, with a total of 42 fully-electric fast-response cars and three electric motorcycles. In total, there are 160 zero emission capable vehicles in the fleet.
Four fully electric ambulances are expected to be delivered to LAS this year and the Service plans to expand its fleet of electric ambulances from April 2024.
Ford is the first original equipment manufacturer to provide the NHS with a base vehicle that enabled specialist converters, WAS, to build a fully electric ambulance that can power the heating, ventilation, air-conditioning and auxiliary supply that a traditional ambulance requires. There is also enough battery capacity to keep the ambulance operational throughout each 12 hour shift.
These vehicles are the first of twelve fully electric ambulances that will be piloted by NHS England’s Net Zero Travel and Transport team in partnership with LAS and four other ambulance trusts and will enable the collection of “real-life” data. This will be used to inform the wider rollout of zero emission emergency ambulances in the future.