Specialist ambulance crews in the South West have become the first in England to take delivery of new-generation incident response units that will enable them to access off-road locations quicker and easier.
The purpose-designed transporters carry 6×6 Ranger Polaris all-terrain vehicles and have already been delivered to the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust for use by Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) paramedics, who are trained to attend high-risk and complex incidents.
Developed under a partnership between leading ambulance specialist WAS UK and conversion specialist Bevan Group, the transporters are based on 7.5-tonne DAF LF chassis. Each is fitted with a box body and integral, split beavertail ramp, which allows for rapid deployment of the ATV – the longer section of the ramp also forms the rear closure.
The Polaris ATVs are capable of carrying a driver, up to two more paramedics and a patient on a stretcher. The transporter’s design – a 2.0-tonne winch is also fitted – allows the ATV to be safely loaded and unloaded.
Other features include a power management system configured by WAS to operate the emergency response communications equipment and blue lights, a side door with fold-out step and a pressure washer fed from a 100-litre water tank and used to hose down the ATV following offroad operation.
In total, WAS UK and Bevan Group have been commissioned to build 14 transporters for use by the HART teams at English NHS Ambulance Trusts. The vehicles will replace the first-generation trucks that HART teams have been operating for the last 10 years.
The National Ambulance Resilience Unit (NARU), which established the HART operations, said the new transporters and ATVs will bring a number of benefits.
Head of capabilities Gerry Byrne explained: “The new transporters are a lot simpler and safer for HART teams to operate, which means less training is required. We began work on this project 2.5 years ago and in the latter stages liaised closely with WAS and Bevan to fine-tune the design, for example by giving personnel a bit more room to move either side of the ATV.
“Notwithstanding the delay that was an inevitable result of the first national Covid-19 lockdown, all went extremely smoothly. It was a two-way process and the experience of working with both companies has been an entirely positive one. We’re delighted with these new, fit-for-purpose transporters, and I know the same is going to be true of the HART crews who use them.”