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DRIVING THE HIGHEST LEVELS OF DOUBLE CREWED AMBULANCE SAFETY IN THE UK


After 2 years, £1 million, and 8,000 hours of extensive design engineering later, our Double Crewed Ambulance is now fully certified to GB Whole Vehicle Type Approval and BS EN 1789:2020 CEN standards.

The certification – issued by the VCA – ensures we are providing the highest levels of safety within the vehicle for both patients and our incredible frontline paramedics – as required in the NHS National Specification.

With our certification complete and vehicles already being delivered to NHS Trusts we are proud to provide our emergency services with a vehicle of uncompromising quality, built in the UK, to the highest safety and performance standards in the industry.

As paramedics face increasingly demanding environments, we strive to continuously improve ergonomics, technology and our manufacturing processes – ensuring a vehicle of uncompromising quality, design and safety – fit for our world-class first responders. As such, our latest double crewed ambulances are built and certified by the VCA to BS EN 1789:2020 (CEN) standards and with GB Whole Vehicle Type Approval – achieved through the culmination of our 35 year heritage in emergency vehicle production. As varying trusts can require varying specifications, we maintain the flexibility to engineer and cater towards a design which draws wholehearted approval from the users.

Meeting the 2020 Certification

The incorporation of CEN 2020 is the result of two years of meticulous research, extensive design engineering, prototyping, and testing, with final dev­elopment costs approaching £1m and over 8,000 engineering hours invested. In addition, the project has seen intense collaboration with the VCA to ensure complete compliance with every requirement of the Whole Vehicle Type-Approval system (WVTA). This has culminated in a DCA that puts safety at the core of its design with extensive innovations.

“It is great to see that Venari O&H have achieved type approval on their latest generation of Fiat Ducato Double Crewed Ambulance.  The Fiat Ducato has been extensively used by ambulance trusts in the UK due to its class leading payloads and cargo space. Fiat is extremely proud to support the NHS and be a small part of the vital service they offer.  We look forward to continuing our relationship with the NHS and Venari in the future.”

Richard Abbott, Head of Specialist Fleets at Stellantis.

The design engineering, undertaken by Venari’s industry-leading team to achieve WVTA, is not only visually evident throughout the construction of the vehicle, but also within the structure itself.

“We are proud of the partnership that has been built over the years with Venari and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future. I would like to congratulate the Venari team on achieving Whole Vehicle Type Approval for the latest Double Crew Ambulances, meaning that we are providing our staff and patients with the safest ambulance vehicles available.”

Jeff Gott, Head of Fleet Services at Yorkshire Ambulance Service.

The improvements commence with the reinforcement of the base vehicle, to increase the structural integrity in the event of an impact and reduce the likelihood of injury to the occupants. CEN 2020 required Venari’s development vehicles to be thoroughly impact tested to 10g at UTAC test laboratories in France. This highlighted the need to strengthen the rear of the long wheelbase Fiat Ducato ‘cargo van’ before being converted into an emergency ambulance. Subsequently, every DCA to leave Venari is now reinforced with additional metal supports and frameworks, which are fitted at the start of the vehicle build.

“The team has delivered the same engineering, performance, and safety standards required of car and vehicle manufacturers. Paramedics and patients have the right to expect the same safety standards in the rear of an ambulance as provided by Fiat in the cab. Only certified Whole Vehicle Type Approval guarantees this, whereas the common practice of Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) is more akin to a basic MOT.

“Venari’s test vehicles were subjected to comprehensive crash testing to the front, rear and side and even a potentially catastrophic roll over, replicating motorway speeds,” added Venari’s Engineering Director, Craig Scaife.

The importance of the approvals process

Venari’s Head of Compliance, Eamonn Kilduff, who led the Type Approval process said, “The effort required to achieve this approval cannot be overstated. It has been a steep learning curve for all concerned; Venari, our supply chain partners especially, and our customers.”

The approval process addresses a range of subjects, from vehicle braking systems to the safe burning rate of the interior materials used in the conversion.

“Everybody knows about the extensive ‘crash testing’ involved but there is far more to it than that. All locker doors must be to OE automotive standard (and safety marked in the same way as the glass in a car); each internal part is checked to ensure there are no sharp edges that could injure occupants in the event of an impact. Design improvements have been made, together with suppliers, to accommodate all these requirements.”

An example of the innovation in the latest CEN standard is the inclusion of colour rendering within the lighting. This ensures that the lighting in the patient task area is technically comparable to that in a hospital – vital when paramedics are assessing patients.

“The VCA CEN test report alone has 293 checks to ensure the safety of the occupants of the ambulance. The result is that we consider this Double Crewed Ambulance to be the safest it can possibly be” added Kilduff.

The proof is the tamper-proof silver ‘Stage 2 Statutory Plate’ fitted to the driver’s door slam pillar.  This is certified by the VCA and matches Fiat’s ‘Stage 1 Statutory Plate’ with the unique Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). Every Type Approved vehicle proudly carries this plate, and the customer receives a security bonded Certificate of Conformity to further underline the vehicle’s safety credentials.

“Every vehicle Venari produces will benefit from this process,” explained Kilduff. “It is far and away a more stringent standard than that of the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA) process commonly used. We are already incorporating some of the most important safety features into our development process – across all our vehicles. BSI and VCA conformity of production auditing further ensure consistency of delivery. After all, each vehicle we convert carries someone’s loved one. There should be no compromise in their safety.”

Proud of the Teams Achievements

Mark Brickhill, Venari’s Managing Director said he is proud of the team that has worked with Venari’s NHS customers and some of the UK’s and Europe’s leading vehicle research, development and safety testing organisations including UTAC for crash testing, TUV, MIRA, Huddersfield University’s Engineering and Technology Department and the VCA themselves.

He explained, “Thorough fire retardancy laboratory testing was undertaken by Warrington Fire and our suppliers. The VCA inspects all this work which is critical for customer confidence as only 20 per cent is visible once built.”

Expanding Customer Base

With full certification and its flagship Double Crewed Ambulance now in service, Venari looks forward to supplying additional NHS ambulance trusts and private sector customers across the UK with a vehicle of uncompromising quality, built to the highest safety and performance standards in the industry.

Looking to the future, Craig Scaife asked, “Why settle for a far inferior IVA when you can have Whole Vehicle Type Approval, which consistently ensures the highest safety standards?”