By Denna Bowman
Ambulance chiefs were so impressed with the safety credentials of cold weather tyres last winter that they are planning on fitting them to all their vehicles this year.
West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) and East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) will use Michelin’s Agilis Alpin and Alpin 4 range tyres across their fleets – a total 530 ambulances and 308 rapid response cars.
The decision comes after the neighbouring trusts’ fleet managers compared standard tyres with cold weather tyres at a test day at the MIRA track in Warwickshire, according to Fleet News Online.
It reported that the results showed that on a slippery surface similar to ice and snow, Agilis Alpin tyres reduced ambulance braking distances by more than half. Drivers from both services also reported significant improvements in traction and steering response.
Graham Cann, WMAS Regional head of fleet, said: “I was aware of the potential of cold weather tyres for cars in general, but we were keen to test them on our ambulances. The difference in braking distance and handling was quite remarkable.
“We have had two harsh winters with lots of snow and ice and to assist in the delivery of patient care we had been using snow socks to get around. While the snow sock is an absolutely fantastic tool we believe going on to winter tyres will enhance the vehicles’ ability to get to their destinations in a safe manner, therefore giving the patients a better chance of receiving the treatment and care they need.
“For some of our patients every second counts. If by using cold weather tyres it reduces journey times to these patients by even 30 seconds, it could be the difference between life and death; that has got to be something worth doing.”
Steve Farnsworth, EMAS fleet general manager, added: “We had been interested in using cold weather tyres for some time and after seeing the Michelin tests there was no doubt that these are the tyres for us.
“They are not just a snow and ice tyre, the shorter stopping distance is also very noticeable in the slush and wet, plus handling on the dry track in cold weather was impressive too.”
The ambulances will be fitted with the Michelin cold weather tyres during October and early November. The summer tyres will be stored and re-fitted during late March and April 2012.