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Low-carbon emergence in emergency services

The media recently covered a renewables story that certainly caught the eye – ambulances being fitted with solar PV panels to power on-board equipment like defibrillators, satellite navigation and communications systems.

It’s a move that will please our transport team, as not only will it add an element of self-sufficiency to saving lives, but it should save on fuel costs and emissions too. Previously, engines have had to have been run idle between call-outs to keep the equipment’s battery charged.

It’s not a surprise that such moves are being explored and acted upon – the NHS has a target to reduce carbon emissions by 10 per cent by 2015. South Ambulance Service may well have come up with something that will catch on in other regions; but they’re not the only paramedics with a carbon reduction in their sights.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust have picked up one of our Fleet Hero Awards for their strategy to go above and beyond the targeted cut in their region through fuel efficient driver training, among other things. They’re not alone as members of our Motorvate transport support scheme either – we count South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust among our number too.

So the teams behind the ambulances of the UK seem to be taking positive sustainable steps, but are the other emergency services also working towards a low-carbon future?

The answer appears to be yes. The Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade were part of a joint project with aims of delivering deep carbon cuts. Solar, Combined Heat and Power, vehicle efficiency improvements and more were combined with a concerted campaign to get ‘buy in’ to workplace energy efficiency from the people who work in the services.

Cheshire Fire and Rescue have opted for a less mobile solar than that employed by our headline emergency professionals. They’ve gone for the classic, panels-on-roof approach for their HQ – with plans for more on the roofs of local stations in the area.

  • We’d be interested to here of any more innovations in the emergency services. Has your coastguard got an on board wave-power system? Your local air ambulance sporting a wind turbine beside the landing pad?
Gary Hartley is Energy Saving Trust's expert blogger. He has extensive experience researching and writing on a number of topics, with particular expertise in sustainable energy, policy, literature and sport. As well as providing regular blog content, Gary has also been published in numerous magazines and journals.

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