Features & Interviews

Blue light benefits: The Emergency Services Show 2022

06 October 2022 #Features & Interviews

This year’s Emergency Services Show brought together the CV sector and Britain’s police, fire and ambulance services to display the latest vehicles, technologies and equipment that help to keep people safe up and down the UK.

The two-day event at the NEC in Birmingham, which took place last month, is the UK’s leading annual showcase of the blue light sector, featuring more than 450 exhibitors, live demonstrations, talks and networking opportunities.

At the show, Venari Group showcased some of the fruits of its official partnership with Ford which began in 2020: the company unveiled its Ford Venari Rapid Response Firefighting Unit (RRFU) which is based on a five-tonne Ford Transit double chassis cab, capable of carrying up to five firefighters.

This RRFU demonstrator has a robust but lightweight aluminium body, maximising equipment carrying to a previously unseen capacity, in conjunction with a 600-litre water tank, capable of being increased up to 1,200 litres or according to specific fire and rescue service requirements.

An internal ladder stowage system, meanwhile, maintains the vehicle’s low centre of gravity, while there are also lightweight equipment stowage systems.

Also on display was the Ford Venari Drone Response Unit, based on a Ford Ranger chassis, aimed at emergency drone crews operating in firefighting and police organisations.

The vehicle’s systems can be fully connected to a fleet of drones and the Ranger includes drone detection technology.

Other features include a weather station, a lithium-powered invertor, temperature-controlled battery charging and storage compartments, touch screen operations area, night vision lighting, a 42-inch monitor and operator welfare facilities.

Venari also exhibited its new Ford Transit patient transport vehicle, which this year has received more than 600 orders.

Oliver North, CEO of Venari Group, said: “In an ever-evolving industry in terms of front-line user challenges, alongside global supply chain hurdles, I truly believe manufacturers must come to the table with comprehensive solutions to answer the questions asked of us by our world-class emergency services.

“We’ve done precisely that across multiple vehicle disciplines together with our incredible alliance partners, Ford.”

Mercedes-Benz Trucks presented another Unimog U5023, in this case a crew cab variant, at the show.

However, representatives were keen to talk about an extreme off-road Unimog, just put into operation with Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service, designed specifically to deal with wildfires and flash floods.

This ultra-high mobility Unimog UHE is able to transport mission-specific ‘pods’, manufactured by Emergency One (UK), each of which is packed with specialist equipment.

Its 4×4 chassis has the maximum permissible gross weight of 14.5 tonnes and the conversion design includes three sets of access steps that fold up against both sides and the rear of the pods while in situ.

The U5023 variant is powered by a 5.1-litre four-cylinder engine that produces 230 hp and 900 Nm of torque across a broad rev range, which it transmits via an optional EAS automated manual version of the standard gearbox.

To supplement its eight forward and six reverse gears, Cornwall Fire & Rescue Service specified the working and crawler gear range, which provides another eight forward and reverse ratios.

Vehicle conversion specialist VCS unveiled its next-generation Dual Crewed Ambulance at the show, a new Fiat Ducato-based vehicle.

The company says significant weight savings have been achieved compared with its previous model with the introduction of a low mass loading ramp, while lightweight composites have also been utilised in the vehicle’s interior cabinets, panelling and flooring.

Meanwhile lithium-ion technology and revised battery management systems further reduce weight while also improving performance.

This includes a new integrated electronic control system from Acetech, which enables greater flexibility for drivers and crews.

Using this system, fleet managers can track key medical assets coded to the vehicle and draw upon telematics to enable efficiency gains.

Ambulance crews benefit from voice activated commands and controls, facial recognition security systems and a 3D surround camera designed in conjunction with VUE.

The next-generation DCA is now due to enter service with West Midlands Ambulance Service.

Mark Kerrigan, Managing Director of VCS, said: “Our Dual Crewed Ambulance makes up a significant proportion of the UK’s ambulance fleet, meaning that any updates to this vehicle can have a profound effect on our emergency services.

“We’ve taken this responsibility incredibly seriously, ensuring that our next-generation DCA offers significant efficiency gains as well as tangible benefits to crews and ambulance fleet managers alike.”

Meanwhile, vehicle connectivity experts VNC Automotive exhibited its Cobalt Cube at the show.

The Cobalt Cube is a small box that controls light bars, sirens, ANPR, CCTV and many other features using a vehicle’s existing touchscreen.

According to VNC, this significantly reduces installation overheads, and, since the dashboard remains completely intact, increases residual values at end of fleet life.

The system is also able to remotely display apps from smartphones, tablets and PCs on the touchscreen.

Since its launch in July 2021, the cube has proved popular in the USA and Canada.

Tom Blackie, CEO of VNC Automotive, says the technology can make the lives of police officers easier and safer.

“It made sense to house our proven software within a dedicated box, thereby empowering first response fleets to consolidate the many mission-critical systems they need, using the built-in touchscreen as the primary interface,” Mr Blackie said.

“It creates substantial cost savings for installers preparing emergency vehicles who, instead of mounting physical hardware to the dashboard, appreciate that Cobalt Cube is effectively plug-and-play.”

Hybrid power solutions supplier Fischer Panda UK also displayed its range of hybrid, mobile power equipment and air-conditioning and refrigeration systems and shared what it can offer operators in the emergency services.

The Dorset-based company provides customised hybrid and electric power solutions for customers, operators and vehicle builders in the sector.

Ian Saunders, Fischer Panda UK’s Vehicle and Specialist Applications Sales Manager, said: “Being the UK’s exclusive distributor for Autoclima and Mastervolt puts us ahead as technical specialist integrators offering supply, installation and service of complete customised solutions, including hybrid electric and mobile power systems, with or without generators, for specialist application vehicles.”

The annual Emergency Services Show is an important demonstration of the important role commercial vehicle manufacturers and suppliers in the UK play in helping keep communities safe and protected.

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