As a largely mobile workforce, it’s crucial our clinicians are provided elite-level vehicles – and we have a dedicated team who make this happen. They are the hidden heroes of our workforce who are, quite literally, ensuring our clinicians are always on the move so they can treat people in need.
Ols Duerr-Reuther - NSW Ambulance’s Associate Director Fleet, Equipment & Uniform - oversees a team of more than 70 NSW Ambulance staff who are responsible for designing and rolling out new ambulance vehicle models, as well as the ongoing replacement of around 1700 vehicles for existing models in our fleet. The team is also responsible for the medical equipment in the vehicles, which includes ongoing maintenance, compliance to standards and the installation of any new equipment.
Right now, it’s a busy time for Ols and his team. They are currently working on a number of new or redesigned vehicle types to be added to the service’s fleet. Some of the vehicle types they are currently working on include eight Rescue Trucks, eight new Mercedes-Benz Unimogs, and 18 Multi-Purpose Vehicles (MPVs). These vehicles will have an invaluable impact on clinicians once they are built and subsequently operational. Also of interest are the existing AMB1 vehicles, which are used by all of our paramedics.
Ols’s team will be responsible for fitting out each of those vehicles with the new Corpuls 3T monitor/defibrillators, among other interior design changes that are currently in the pipeline. Prior to these projects, the team recently finished the production of 80 new four-wheel drive access and egress vehicles (AMB4: Toyota Landcruiser 200 series), many of which are now being used by our clinicians. The vehicle roll out will be completed this month. All of this, of course, is in addition to the ‘business as usual’ tasks relating to the maintenance and replacement of vehicles and medical equipment.
“With the projects we have in the pipeline right now, they are all great projects,” Ols said. “They keep my team awake at night… but not so much because of stress, it’s instead because they get us excited."
“The Unimog will be a really capable access and egress vehicle, and vehicles like the Rescue Trucks and MPVs are going to provide a very high level of capability enhancement to our clinicians. It’s a fantastic time for us and the organisation.”
Right now, the Rescue Truck, Unimog and MPVs are in a ‘mock-up’ phase, which is essentially a physical prototype of what the vehicles will include once constructed. Prior to this, was the design phase, with each major stage – design, mock-up and construction – undergoing rigorous testing and analysis to ensure the final product meets a high standard which is both safe and beneficial for the clinicians who will be utilising the vehicles.
Ols, an engineer by profession who joined NSW Ambulance around three years ago, said the roll-out of the 200 series vehicles provided a great learning curve for him and his team on the current vehicle projects. Specifically, he highlighted the importance – and support – of the many working groups who contributed input on vehicle design. Management, industrial representatives, Health & Safety and Special Operations are some of the stakeholders who make up these working groups.
“Having the working group share their thoughts and desires for the vehicles, on things like technology and safety, is incredibly important so that we can ensure best practice on what we deliver,” Ols said. “With the mock-ups – which you can sit in, walk in, test, touch and feel – this helps all working group members to understand where we need to finetune things, identify risks we didn’t see before and look at areas for improvement, resulting in a fit-for-purpose asset. These prototypes also help to get the production and engineering processes right to avoid unnecessary changes during the build program that could otherwise lengthen the timeline."
Ols also acknowledged the significant support he and his team receive from NSW Chief Executive, Dr Dominic Morgan; Executive Director, Finance & Corporate Services, Brian Jackson, and Director Assets & Infrastructure, Peter Elliott. Most importantly, he wanted to acknowledge the incredible work of the Fleet & Equipment staff who work under him, and in particular the following three people who report directly to him: Mark Deeley, Manager Medical Equipment; Joe Crisafi, Fleet Vehicle Coordination Manager; and Patrick Matthes, Fleet Projects Officer.
“I have a fantastic team who work all across the state,” Ols said. “I am particularly proud of all the work they have done during COVID-19 to ensure we continued to build new vehicles, replace and maintain existing vehicles, and ensure medical equipment in those vehicles is compliant and also rolled out. You can always talk about things and plan things, but with this team of 70 or so people they just make things happen. We can rely on each other.”