Local air ambulance adds hybrid Volvo vehicles to its rapid response fleet

14 February 2022

As part of its commitment to make the very best choices for the environment and reduce its carbon impact, Essex & Herts Air Ambulance (EHAAT) has added two new plug-in hybrid vehicles to its fleet of rapid response vehicles (RRV).

The local life-saving charity is the first air ambulance in the UK to purchase the Volvo XC90 Recharge plug-in hybrid SUV for use as part of an emergency response fleet.

As well as providing pure electric driving producing zero tailpipe emissions, the new vehicles will give better results when measured against the traditional miles per gallon, thereby reducing fuel costs. The hybrids are powered by an electric motor and a combustion engine, which work together seamlessly to deliver optimal efficiency, reduced tailpipe emissions and a smooth, powerful drive. Overall performance is not affected in any way. Both RRVs are also fitted with a modern and innovative AI-powered telematics platform, which will further allow EHAAT to ensure optimum operational efficiency is maintained.

Wrapped with innovative and highly reflective branding, with the latest blue light system to enhance visibility and safety, the two new RRVs join the existing petrol Volvo XC90 response vehicles used by EHAAT, which were purchased in May 2018.

Scott McIlwaine, Head of Operations at EHAAT, has been leading on the acquisition process and said: “The rationale behind EHAAT’s decision to use Volvos follows the extensive market research and testing exercise we carried out in 2018 when we purchased the petrol XC90s. This ensured that the right vehicle was selected to meet the very specific demands needed for our fleet of emergency response vehicles.

“Volvo Car UK has a dedicated blue light team and continues to provide fantastic support and aftersales. This was certainly the case in recent months when they provided a spare car to assist with the transfer service during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“All of this, together with the continued positive feedback from all our crew since our move to Volvo, and stats showing that the Volvo XC90 continues to be one of the safest cars on the road, made things easier when deciding on the best hybrid vehicles to add to our fleet.”

As well as having operational advantages with regard to familiarity and spares, the move by EHAAT to an RRV fleet that is totally Volvo has started a trend, in which the EHAAT is leading the way.

“Since integrating them into our fleet in 2018, a number of air ambulance trusts and ambulance services have approached us to enquire about the Volvos and have since followed suit,” Scott explained. “I’m certain that there will be a lot of interest in our most recent purchase of the new plug-in hybrids.”

Jeanette Griggs, Volvo Car UK’s Special Vehicles Manager, said: “The fact that the Essex & Herts Air Ambulance service has added two plug-in hybrid Volvo models to its fleet of rapid response vehicles is a ringing endorsement of these cars’ suitability for the toughest and most important of jobs – that of saving lives. The plug-in hybrid XC90’s combination of zero-emission capability, powerful performance, rugged all-terrain ability, favourable running costs, advanced safety, and supreme space and practicality make it the ideal car for the role, and Volvo Car UK is thrilled that the cars will provide invaluable assistance for EHAAT’s vital work.”

The RRVs are crewed by a Pre-hospital Care Doctor and a Critical Care Paramedic and carry the same life-saving equipment as the helicopters. They are used before sunrise, after sunset or when the helicopter is unable to fly because of poor weather or maintenance. Overnight, the service is provided using an RRV based at EHAAT’s North Weald Airbase.

With quick and easy access to the new charging points that have been installed, the hybrid RRVs will now take up residence at their new homes. One will operate from EHAAT’s new airbase at North Weald, the other from Earls Colne, where they will serve the communities of Essex and Hertfordshire providing advanced life-saving pre-hospital care directly to the side of patients with a sudden life-threatening injury or medical emergency.

Over the coming year, EHAAT will be continuing to innovate when it intends to purchase two further SUVs, becoming the first air ambulance in the country running an RRV fleet that comprises entirely of Volvo plug-in hybrids.

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Essex & Herts Air Ambulance Trust is a registered charity in England and Wales (1108989). Registered company in England and Wales (05397840). Registered address: Flight House, The Business Centre, Earls Colne Business Park, Earls Colne, Colchester CO6 2NS.