Ambulance Trust will roll out a new vehicle weight programme

South East Coast Ambulance Service

South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (Secamb) is to roll out a new vehicle weight programme after identifying a potential issue with 18 of its 301 vehicles.

On April 1, as part of its fleet maintenance and testing processes, it found that 18 of its 301 ambulances were potentially close to their gross vehicle weight limit when fully equipped and with a crew and patient on board.

There have been no reported accidents or incidents related to the issue, but it has meant no family members of patients or extra medical staff could legally also be transported.

This led Secamb to announce a review of the equipment carried by the Mercedes-Benz ambulances, with John Griffiths, head of fleet and logistics at the organisation, telling Brake’s Fleet Safety Conference on Thursday, May 25, that the process is ongoing.

He said: “Operating crews were put in the poor position of, for example, saying to someone ‘I’m sorry but your husband is very ill, we’ve got to take him to hospital, but I can’t take you, you’ll have to find another way to get there.

“We are rolling out a new whole vehicle weight programme, but that is taking about three months.”

Secamb is asking Mercedes-Benz whether the vehicles could be re-classified so the maximum gross weight would increase to 5.3 tonnes. “If we can do that, all our problems go away,” Griffiths added.

Brake also announced that its annual Road Safety Week will take place from November 20 to 26, with the theme ‘Speed Down, Save Lives’.

Brake corporate fund-raising manager Richard Coteau, said: “Road Safety Week is a fantastic opportunity for fleet operators to talk about speed within their own organisation, whether that’s launching a new campaign or just reaffirming the policies they have in place.”

The messages it will focus on include:

■ Speed causes deaths and serious injuries 

■ Rural roads are not race tracks

■ 20mph is the only safe speed in heavily built-up areas used by pedestrians and cyclists

■ Going slow equals stopping in time

■ Speed cameras work. They save lives.

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  • MB - 13/06/2017 12:52

    I am not surprised by this article whatsoever. When we were looking at purchasing some new 3.5t vans for our fleet one of our accountants analysed several van manufacturers including Ford, Renault, Citroen, Fiat, Mercedes & LDV. She found that the Mercedes were the heaviest vans of all manufacturers which therefore meant that to stay within the legal limit of 3.5 tons meant that they had the smallest carrying capacity. LDV were the lightest and therefore able to carry the most. If Mercedes-Benz were to re classify the vehicles as 5.3 tonnes then this might save the carrying capacity problem but would then mean the vehicles fall into the Operators Licence realms and the Authority would then need to operate them under a Restricted O Licence and use Tacho cards for all Ambulance personnel. This in itself would be a nightmare in relation to Drivers Hours etc.

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