Wiltshire Air Ambulance Helicopter and RRV

Wiltshire Air Ambulance’s new Rapid Response Vehicle (RRV) is not only easily recognisable but it’s also been designed for optimum performance for the charity’s critical care paramedics.

A range of different vehicles from numerous manufacturers were trialled by Wiltshire Air Ambulance before they selected the Volvo XC90 – and then decked it out in their branded yellow and green colour scheme.

One of the key requirements was excellent off-road capability, particularly when the worst winter weather precludes use of the aircraft. A few weeks after the charity took delivery of the new RRV in early 2019 it proved its worth in the snowy conditions.

Another important aspect was the rear storage space to accommodate the critical care team’s medical equipment and the Volvo XC90 has one of the largest capacities. There is even extra room to spare should there be a need to increase the kit in the future.

The charity’s paramedics designed the interior fit out and an innovative feature is a bespoke retractable equipment tray, which was chosen to improve the process for getting their medical equipment out of the vehicle.

Critical care paramedic Dan Tucker said: “Our kit weighs in excess of 100kg, with some individual bags weighing in at around 25kg – equivalent to the weight of an eight-year-old child.

“Reaching into the back of a large vehicle to pull this equipment out puts an enormous strain on our backs. The bespoke equipment tray now enables the team to slide their entire equipment out of the boot.

“One of the benefits of this is it enables more than one person to access the equipment at once.

“It also means we can place the heavy rucksacks on our backs without actually taking any weight until we are ready to walk away from the vehicle, meaning we do not have to twist or swing the heavy bags on to our backs, therefore reducing the risk of significant back injuries within the team.”

Another advantage of the XC90 is that it provides the capability to tow the charity’s fuel bower to its aircraft should it require a refuel at a remote location or to provide resilience should the aircraft ever need to operate from an alternative location to its airbase in Semington.

The purchase and fitting out of the XC90 was supported by a local group and businesses.

The charity bought the vehicle with a grant from a community group that had disbanded (Friends of Bradford on Avon Community Healthcare).

A partnership with Swindon Town Football Club and their main sponsors, Imagine Cruising, resulted in £12,000 being raised for the fit out. This funding was used for the livery, the blue warning lights, emergency sirens, while inside the vehicle it provided the communication equipment and racking for the storage of the specialist medical equipment.

Another local company, Melksham-based Cooper Tire Europe, is supplying the tyres for the vehicle.