13 Nissan Patrol-based 4x4 ambulances have gone into service with St. John Ambulance Units across the UK, and a further two are joining the St. John Ambulance fleet this month. This state-of-the-art machine is the result of a 20-month joint project between Nissan, specialist bodybuilder ATT Papworth and St. John Ambulance, the UK's leading First Aid, Transport and Care Charity.
A number of NHS Authorities are now evaluating the vehicle, and North Wales Health Authority has already added one to its fleet.
The members of the National Vehicle Policy and Guidelines Working Group at St. John Ambulance initiated the project. St John Ambulance volunteers regularly provide medical support for events held off-road, such as cross-country rallies and horse events, and there was a clear need for an ambulance which could reach areas not readily accessible by most vehicles.
John Olsen, National Technical Product Manager for St. John Ambulance said: "At the start of the project we considered all the 4x4 options available. The ergonomics and rear space of the Nissan Patrol presented the best opportunity for a practical layout, and this, combined with the Patrol’s strong performance and excellent off-road capabilities made it the ideal vehicle for our purposes."
Based on the rugged 3.0-litre diesel 158PS long-wheel base Patrol GR, the 4x4 ambulance features a specially-designed four-section roof pod which allows full height headroom, extensive storage and rear access, giving medical personnel plenty of room in which to work and providing a good amount of space for patients. Specialist medical equipment on board meets the standards for all-terrain vehicles recently introduced.
The Patrol’s four-wheel drive system offers a choice of two-wheel drive (to the rear wheels only) for economical driving in normal road conditions, or four-wheel drive for more difficult terrain. Selection between two- and four-wheel drive modes can be made ‘on the move’ at speeds of up to 25mph.
The original prototype was taken to St. John Ambulance locations around the UK last year and put through its paces by the charity’s volunteers. 82% of those who tested it said it would be a welcome addition to the fleet, and this had proved to be the case since the vehicles joined the St. John Ambulance fleet in Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire, Merseyside, Nottinghamshire, Suffolk and Wiltshire earlier this year. All those who are using it have given very positive feedback on the ‘Challenger’, as the ambulance is known in its St. John Ambulance livery.
Dave Murfitt, Nissan’s Fleet Sales Director said: "We were delighted to be able to work in partnership with St. John Ambulance and ATT Papworth to produce such an important vehicle, and look forward to seeing many more introduced into service both by St. John Ambulance and by UK Health Authorities."
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