WMAS reflects on first year of growing electric fleet

With the 2021 UN Climate Change Conference continuing in Glasgow this week, it felt timely for Ambulance service bosses to deliver its own update on where they are in the pledge to become greener.  

As a Trust, WMAS are looking carefully at sustainability and ways to be more eco-friendly. Back in October 2020, they took a major step forward in reducing their impact on the environment by launching the world’s first fully electric front line emergency ambulance.

Call sign EN4871 is operating every day in the city of Birmingham delivering lifesaving patient care; it has the same medical equipment and capability as the diesel-powered fleet. Head of Fleet and Facilities Management for West Midlands Ambulance Service, Tony Page, said:

“The design of our fully electric ambulance has a low centre of gravity and is powered by a 96kW battery pack which provides a top speed of 75mph and can achieve a range of 105-110 miles with a charge time of under two hours.

"Now, over 12 months on, the feedback from crews using the ambulance is positive with an improved environment to deliver patient care compared to its diesel counterparts, due to the smoother ride and quieter nature.”

In March 2021, the Trust worked with partner VCS Bradford again to launch two all-electric zero emissions Jaguar I-Pace ambulance response cars, which are operational in Birmingham. Tony added:

“Staff using the Jaguar I-Pace’s think they are the best thing since sliced bread! We have invested in the right charging infrastructure to support rapid charging, which I think has certainly helped with staff’s experience of operating the vehicles in the 999 emergency setting.”

The most recent addition to the Trust’s electric fleet this year is four London Electric Vehicle Company VN5 vans for its IT support team, whose journeys can vary according to demand. Tony concluded:

“We are continually looking at how we can further expand our ‘greener’ fleet in other areas of the service too. I’m very pleased to say we have four fully electric Patient Transport Service vehicles on order, for delivery in January and March 2022.

"This will mean the Trust has a set of fully electric vehicles in all operational categories. All future fleet procured for support functions are set to be fully electric and by 2028 we pledge that all of our fleet under 3.5tonne will be fully electric.

"We are now working with NHS England and Improvement and a number of manufacturers to deliver four prototype electric ambulances for national trials, with the ultimate aim to implement a zero-emission fleet nationally.”

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