A FLEET of Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs has been coming to the aid of people requiring emergency medical assistance through an innovative partnership between Mitsubishi Motors in the UK and the South East Coast Ambulance (SECAmb) NHS Foundation Trust.

Funded by the Department for Transport’s Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), 15 examples of the UK’s best-selling Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle are being trialled as ‘Single Responder Vehicles’ (SRVs). Often the first on the scene at an emergency, the SRVs are usually crewed by a single, highly-experienced paramedic and carry all the essential life-saving equipment that is required in an emergency.

The Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs are playing a leading role in helping SECAmb determine the extent to which it can enhance the fuel efficiency of its fleet through the adoption of hybrid vehicles. Their use has also allowed SECAmb to avoid diesel emissions affecting its staff and patients at the scene of an incident – a factor that was especially important in their decision to implement alternative-fuelled vehicles.

All the vehicles were converted to SECAmb’s exact specification by Mitsubishi Special Vehicle Operations (MSVO) – Mitsubishi Motors in the UK’s in-house specialised conversion division. As part of the bespoke conversion, the rear load area of each Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV has been adapted to offer quick, easy access to the medical equipment on-board, which includes a Lifepak diagnostic machine.

Five of the vehicles also have a marine-grade solar panel system fitted to the roof. This system is being used as a proof of concept with a view to adding panels to all operational vehicles and negating the need for electrical shore lines currently in use, which keep on-board medical equipment charged when the vehicle is switched off.

To further aid efficiency, paramedics who use the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEVs have received full driver training to ensure that they can optimise the energy-saving potential of the hybrid technology. This was delivered with assistance from Mitsubishi Motors in the UK and leading business vehicle leasing specialist, Fleetdrive.

Julia Brown, Environmental Sustainability Manager, South East Coast Ambulance (SECAmb) NHS Foundation Trust, said: “The best way to see how hybrid vehicles can benefit our operation is to trial them in ‘real world’ conditions and of all the options available to us, the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV was the obvious choice as it was large enough to carry the kit.

“Importantly, in full electric mode they provide a significantly improved working environment for our paramedics and for patients who are being treated. The AWD mode provides resilience for crews to respond on all sorts of terrain, while the feedback we’ve received from staff is that the vehicles are very comfortable; the higher driving position makes it easier for them to get in and out of the vehicle quickly.”

Lance Bradley, Managing Director, Mitsubishi Motors in the UK, commented, “We’re delighted that SECAmb chose the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV for its hybrid trials and that it’s proving to be the ideal vehicle for their needs.

“The project also perfectly illustrates the expertise of our MSVO division which provided SECAmb with a ‘one-stop shop’ for their requirements and a simple process right from the moment they placed the order to the delivery of the fully converted vehicles.”