In the bid to decarbonise road transport, drivers are making the switch to cleaner, greener vehicles, and the emergency services are already setting the standard for this electric revolution.
The electrification of emergency response vehicle fleets has intensified during 2021, from the introduction of new, all-electric ambulances to the installation of supporting infrastructure. There is little doubt that the sector is keeping pace with the Government as it continues to drive home its ‘Net Zero’ message, however, adopting an all-electric fleet is not simply a plug and play switch, it requires a whole new strategy and change in operational processes.
Charging itself requires a completely new approach and this is particularly true for emergency response vehicles, which need to be operationally ready at all times.
Fundamentally, training should be the cornerstone of EV adoption, and this should be filtered down throughout the entire sector. From the technicians working within the emergency vehicle fleet workshop, repairing and modifying EVs, the emergency responders operating them and attending EV accidents, right down to valets and volunteers working alongside the vehicles as part of their everyday duties.
While EVs typically need less maintenance than conventional vehicles, any repair or modification on an EV requires the isolation of the high voltage system from the rest of the vehicle, and this needs to be correctly re-instated once the work is carried out. Mandatory equipment to work on EVs, such as insulated rubber gloves and plastic tools, also need to be purchased and used accurately to carry out any work. Workshop employees carrying out any repair work on emergency fleet vehicles should receive IMI Levels 2-4 Electric/Hybrid vehicle training, depending on their role in the workshop. This high level of knowledge will equip them with the necessary skills required to carry out repairs on live electrical components and systems safely.
Basic training for all staff
The high voltage nature of electric vehicles introduces new hazards, therefore, as the sector continues to electrify its fleets, basic EV awareness training should be planned for all members of staff to enable them to safely work alongside these vehicles. In accordance with the Electricity at Work regulations, enforced by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) all employers have a responsibility to ensure that employees are adequately trained – otherwise they may find themselves liable.
Electric vehicle awareness training will provide employees with an introduction to the knowledge of safe working practices, the dangers surrounding EVs, and the precautions required to avoid potential injury when near EVs.
Fundamentally, across all industries, there is a major knowledge gap surrounding EVs. A lack of even basic training is hindering employee usage, and, for many organisations, this could render fleet electrification as a ‘tick the box’ exercise. But this cannot be the case for people working and volunteering for the blue light sector. Not only will they increasingly come into contact with these vehicles in their line of duty, but, as the sector continues to make the switch, working alongside and within them will become part of their everyday working life.
Autotech Training, the dedicated training division of the automotive industry employment and training specialist, Autotech Group, is a recognised provider of IMI electric/hybrid vehicle training and can offer these courses to all employees within any organisation or blue light service
Training can be undertaken at the company’s Milton Keynes headquarters, which features a dedicated EV Training Suite complete with an electric car for hands-on learning. Alternatively, Autotech Training can also roll out its offering, delivering EV courses on the premises of any organisation. This not only helps employers keep travel expenses down but keeps downtime to an absolute minimum. Highly experienced trainers deliver the courses and bring an electric vehicle to enable candidates to put the theory into practice.