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Oxford County is home to Canada’s first hybrid ambulances that will be helping to save lives this October

By Heather Rivers, Woodstock Sentinel-Review

An innovative new addition to Oxford’s paramedic fleet is also the first of its kind in Canada.

Oxford County is set to become the first Canadian municipality to introduce electric hybrid ambulances with the purchase of two Crestline Coach Fleetmax XL3 Hybrid ambulances that will be helping to save lives this October.

The new technology will add about $35,000 to the $135,000 base price of the ambulance.

Oxford currently has 12 ambulances on the road that are replaced every six years.

As part of the county’s Future Oxford Community Sustainability Plan, Oxford County has a mandate of steadily shifting towards cleaner burning fuels and electric power.

“I think not only is it supporting strategic goals of the county, it’s our opinion as paramedics that improving the environment has an impact on the health of the community,” said Ben Addley, manager of paramedic services for Oxford County Public Health and Emergency Services.

Oxford County EMS approached Crestline to access the feasibility of implementing hybrid technology into their ambulances and the company’s engineering team enthusiastically undertook the project.

In May 2017 Oxford and Crestline decided to undertake the partnership that would result in the manufacture of Canada’s first two hybrid ambulances.

Production of the two vehicles is currently taking place in Saskatoon and the XL3 Hybrid System installs onto the original manufacturer’s powertrains.

By incorporating the new technology it is predicted to help boost fuel economy by 25 per cent, reduce fuel costs by 20 per cent, lower C02 emissions and reduce vehicle maintenance.

“Hybrid technology is maturing through rapid advances in battery, motor and control technologies and now can present a compelling standalone business case,” said Gordon Mclean, director of engineering of Crestline Coach Ltd. in a written release. “Being seen to be green is now showing up in the bottom line.”

The ambulances will also incorporate ACETECH’s ECO-Run solar panels and module.

The module eliminates excessive idling by shutting down the engine when the ambulance is stopped.

Solar panels installed on the roof of the vehicle will use the sun to help power lifesaving equipment, as well as the conversion batteries.

Addley said in the future they will be evaluating the vehicles for savings in fuel, idling time, as well as CO2 emissions.

“We will be looking at future options and will likely continue down this road,” Addley said. “We’d like to see electric options but they are not there yet.”

HRivers@postmedia.com