Emergency service giant Falck, a Denmark-based first responder and ambulance operator, wanted to test if they could make a zero-emission emergency service vehicle. To do this they turned a roomy, fast, and long-range Tesla Model X into an ambulance.
The company operates in over 35 countries worldwide. It provides ambulance services in close cooperation with the national authorities. Falck is today the world’s largest international ambulance operator with more than 5000 vehicles around the globe, but very few are powered by electricity. It makes complete sense that they would try to implement the electric vehicle era in the fleet.
CEO of Falck, Jakob Riis, commented on the unveiling of the vehicle:
“At Falck, we are concerned with using less fuel. It is beneficial both for the environment and the economy, and since no one else in the world has made an old-fashioned ambulance, we ourselves have thrown ourselves into developing one.”
As of yet, electric cars are not good emergency vehicles because rescue tasks require a lot of energy, which is inconsistent with an electric car’s limited battery capacity. However, that has not been the case with Tesla vehicles for some years now with around 100 kWh of capacity and beyond. Riis says:
“In Falck we are concerned with using less fuel. It is beneficial both for the environment and the economy, and since no one else in the world has yet made an electric ambulance, we ourselves decided to develop one.”
The thing about an ambulance is that it uses power for much more than just driving, which can deplete the car’s battery way too fast. This is too dangerous to take a chance when someone’s life is on the line. This challenge was a crucial puzzle that had to be solved so that the patient is safe during transportation as well as actually reaching the hospital. To run out of power could be the difference between life or death. Riis elaborates on the system they devised to combat this challenge:
“We use separate electric systems in the car, which means that all auxiliary equipment is not powered by the car’s own battery, so things like emergency lights, sirens, radio, medical equipment, and cooling/heating equipment is run in a separate system which is charged prior to departure, and backed up by a fuel cell that constantly charges the system on the road.”
The fuel cell is powered by methanol, and this fuel is also used directly for heating:
“So even on a frozen winter day on the highway, where the rescue personnel often wait at length for the rescue operation of the patient being moved into the ambulance, we can guarantee that a warm car is ready for the patient. This is a very important element in a future of electric-powered ambulances.”
This particular test car will first be used in the ambulance service in the southern region of Denmark. Riis said:
“I also expect to see more in the ambulance offering, and we will be better prepared than anyone else. We have both the desire and the duty to develop the ambulance segment, and I am pleased that we already have the first electric car in operation. It is being tested under real-life response with rapid acceleration and hard braking, and this has never been done before.”
As an international leader in ambulance services and healthcare for more than 100 years to date, Falck has collaborated with local and national authorities to prevent accidents, illness, and emergencies; to rescue and help the injured and distressed quickly and competently, and to rehabilitate the sick and injured. Going electric will mean their services are an asset to humanity as well as to our planet.