posted by Alexis Keech

engine vs ambulance

Alexis Keech from the Yorkshire Ambulance Service goes in search of Yorkshire's best emergency eco-driver

Emergency service vehicles line up for the eco driving challenge

On your marks, get set, go green

The NHS has thrown down the gauntlet to its various branches, challenging us to cut our emissions by 10% by 2015.  We at the Yorkshire Ambulance Service have taken it upon ourselves to aim for a reduction of 32% by this date. So I decided to kick start the process with an eco-driving competition between the ambulance, fire and police service, the highways agency and the army.

The emergency services, by their very nature, are always going to be a challenge when it comes to carbon reduction. I have calculated that our carbon footprint is about 12,000 tonnes per year, with 7,500 of that coming from our fleet.

By encouraging more economical driving techniques, we can reduce our carbon emissions and fuel bills by up to 30%.

I discovered, however, that by encouraging more economical driving techniques, YAS could reduce our carbon emissions and fuel bills by up to 30%. To kick things off, I decided to hold a contest to find Yorkshire’s best emergency eco-driver.

Drivers were taught how to reduce their vehicle's carbon footprint and boost their mileage by driving more efficiently (see the top 10 tips below). It was challenging to engage so many organisations, especially ones who hadn't really thought about the benefits of carbon reduction before.

Away from the road, my estates colleagues are working their way around our 100 buildings, switching to low-energy light bulbs, upgrading boiler systems and introducing recycling facilities.

Through carbon champions (known as Green Gods and Goddesses) we are raising awareness of what we are doing as an organisation and getting these measures implemented at the ground level. Our staff are a very caring and passionate group, so we can aspire to achieve our carbon reduction at the same time as providing excellent patient care.

I have estimated that if we can implement everything in our carbon management plan, we can reduce our emissions by 32% and make an annual saving of over £1.7 million.  We're already well on the way, and hope to set an example as the first UK ambulance service to make a big dent in our environmental impact.

Top 10 eco-driving tips

Courtesy of the Energy Saving Trust

Behind the wheel

1. Drive Off From Cold.
Modern cars are designed to move straight away. Warming up the engine just wastes fuel - and actually causes engine wear

2. Check Your Revs.
Change up before 2,500rpm (petrol) or 2,000rpm (diesel)

3. Drive Smoothly.
Anticipate road conditions so that you drive smoothly and avoid sharp acceleration and heavy braking. This saves fuel and reduces accident rates.

4. Step Off The Accelerator.
When slowing down or driving downhill, remain in gear but take your foot off the accelerator early. This reduces fuel flow to the engine to virtually zero.

5. Slow Down.
Driving within the speed limit is safer as well as being the law, and reduces fuel consumption.

Stuck in traffic

6. Switch It Off.
Modern cars use virtually no extra fuel when they are re-started without pressing the accelerator. Turn off the engine if you're going to be stationary for more than a minute or two.

Smarter preparation

7. Plan Ahead.
Plan your journeys to avoid congestion and road works, and to make sure you don't waste fuel or time getting lost!

8. Keep It Long.
Use other forms of transport for short journeys, if you can. A cold engine uses almost twice as much fuel and catalytic converters can take five miles to become effective.

9. Reduce Drag.
Accessories such as roof racks, bike carriers and roof boxes significantly affect your car's aerodynamics and reduce fuel efficiency, so remove them when not in use.

10. Check Tyre Pressure.
Under-inflated tyres are dangerous and increase fuel consumption.