Staff unable to drive new ambulances due to size or build

Ambulance crews are unable to drive their new vehicles due to their size or body shape. New Fiat ambulances are being rolled out across the country to replace older Mercedes models, but many ambulance crew members say they are unable to drive them, reports the BBC.

The vehicles have already been deployed by the East of England Ambulance Service (EEAST) and are being adopted by trusts across the country. A spokesperson for EEAST said it was working to resolve the issues after 94 staff said they could not drive the new vans due to their size or body shape .

Among the issues, taller staff have complained of difficulty fitting into the cabins of Fiat Ducatos. Other complaints include back pain, inability to see properly out of the windshield, and knees and shins scraping the dashboard.

Drivers also reported that their uniform boots were too big for the pedals too close together, resulting in the accelerator being pressed instead of the brake. There was also an issue, which has now been resolved, with engine cutouts when ambulances drove over potholes.

A crew member told the BBC: “I was told that anyone over 5ft 9in (1.75m) tall would be unable to ride it as they would not be able to reach a position comfortable and safe driving. I tried to get into the driver’s seat but I couldn’t adjust the seat to allow me to operate the pedals properly and the steering wheel was pressed against my legs making it difficult to steer while driving. safe.”

A spokesperson for EEAST said: “Since deployment, a small number of colleagues have raised concerns about the cabin area, which is the same as the current National Ambulance Specification. We have been working to resolve these problems, which affect a small proportion of our colleagues, thanks to the expertise of an independent ergonomist to identify possible modifications to the vehicles.”

He said some of his old Mercedes ambulances had been kept for staff unable to drive Fiats. Taller South East Coast Ambulance Trust staff said they also had problems with seat belts not fitting properly.

A Fiat spokeswoman said: “The Fiat Professional Ducato, like all vehicles, must adhere to European Type Approval as well as Euro NCAP, a rigorous set of safety tests.

“The installation of seat belts is carried out in accordance with the rules set by the ECE14 and ECE16 standards.

“If these standards are not met, the vehicle cannot be homologated and therefore sold. Fiat Professional vehicles, including the Ducato, fully comply with all legislation.”

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