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SECAmb Launches First Fully-Electric Ambulance

First of three electric ambulances to be based at Polegate, Thanet, and Gatwick.

The first of three fully-electric vehicles being trialled by South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) is set to hit the roads in the coming days. This move is part of NHS England’s ambitious Zero Emission Electric Vehicle (ZEEV) Pathfinder project, aiming to pioneer the use of electric vehicles in emergency services.

The trial will feature Mercedes-Benz e-Vitos, operating as Single Responder Vehicles (SRVs). These vehicles will initially be based out of three SECAmb sites equipped with heavy-duty vehicle chargers: Polegate, Thanet, and Gatwick. Remarkably, these chargers can power up the vehicles in as little as 30 minutes, ensuring rapid turnaround times.

SECAmb has collaborated extensively with staff, volunteers, and partners to craft and execute ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions. The Trust has set a goal to cut its emissions by 50 percent by 2032 and achieve net zero by 2040. This effort is guided by SECAmb’s comprehensive Green Plan, developed with input from various teams across the organization and its system partners.

The Green Plan, accessible on SECAmb’s website, aligns with the NHS-wide objective to become the first healthcare system globally to reach net zero carbon emissions. It focuses on three main areas: fleet, estates, and medicine.

The transition to ultra-low and zero emission electric vehicles is pivotal, as SECAmb’s fleet accounts for approximately 63 percent of its total emissions. The Trust’s estate, responsible for around 15 percent of emissions, will see continued energy-saving measures such as solar photovoltaic installations, battery storage, retrofitting double glazing, roof insulation, and efficient LED lighting.

In the medical domain, SECAmb will seek greener alternatives for delivering medical equipment and gases, which currently contribute about 10 percent of its carbon footprint.

Engagement and participation from staff and volunteers are crucial to the Green Plan’s success. SECAmb has established a Green Champion Network to ensure that colleagues are actively involved in advancing the plan’s objectives.

Paramedic and chair of SECAmb’s Green Champion staff network, Ben Leeves, said: “There is clearly a lot of passion among colleagues across SECAmb to contribute to the Trust doing everything it can to reduce its carbon emissions and increase its sustainability.

“We hope that the network will continue to grow so that colleagues contribute to changes that will improve the efficiency of our service and in turn benefit patient care.”

SECAmb Executive Director of Strategic Planning and Transformation, David Ruiz-Celada said: “The trial of the new all electric single responder vehicles is just one way in which we are exploring how we can reduce our emissions.

“As an organisation with a significant carbon footprint, we are committed to working closely with colleagues across our organisation, including our Green Network and our system partners to significantly reduce it.

“We will work to prioritise innovation, where possible, which also improves patient care and community wellbeing while also tackling climate change and other sustainability issues.”

The deployment of these electric vehicles marks a significant step forward in SECAmb’s commitment to sustainability and represents a broader effort within the NHS to lead the way in reducing carbon emissions in the healthcare sector.

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