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Monday, August 6, 2012

The Ambient Ambulance

By Neehar Mishra
Photography: Courtesy Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design

A recent enhancement of the old ambulance design innovatively transforms it from a transport unit for patients to a mobile hospital of sorts…

There is no doubting the fact that medical infrastructure, globally, has witnessed tremendous improvement, as can be gauged from the high levels of life-expectancy recorded in recent years. However, as far as the ambulance is concerned, even the most hi-tech models fail to function as self-sufficient treatment units. As Gianpaolo Fusari, Research Associate at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, London, points out, much more treatment is needed while transporting a patient to the nearest hospital. “Also, paramedics are now receiving higher and better training. We detected that there was a mismatch between their capabilities and the vehicles and equipment that were available to support them,” he further adds.


To address this very issue, the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, London, in association with the London Ambulance Service, brought together a team of over 40 front-line paramedics and patients’ representatives in a co-design process to develop a new ambulance interior, which is not only provides treatment within the ambulance, but is also an enhancement of the previous design in terms of hygiene, accessibility to the patient, equipment integration and sustainability.


The redesigned ambulance includes a centrally positioned stretcher providing 360˚ access to the patient. It is also equipped with a digital diagnostics and communication system, which allows better navigation, communicating with hospital colleagues via video links, accessing patient records and sending vital signs and handover information on the way to hospital.


“This treatment space is an important element in building a new system of community treatment in which patients do not have to go to the hospital unless absolutely necessary, coupled with better treatment and diagnostics, enabling seriously ill patients to be transported quickly to specialist units,” explains Mr Fusari.


Feedback on the new design clearly indicates that it improves safety and the patient experience, while enhancing the clinical and cost-effectiveness of care. Follow-on work aims to produce a small fleet of purpose-built mobile demonstrators of the new design to run front-line clinical testing in coordination with hospitals.


The ambulance re-design is a project of the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design in partnership with the Vehicle Design Department at the Royal College of Art, the University of the West of England, Bristol, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust and the London Ambulance Service.



  1. Terrific!
    Some dimensions would be useful.
    However the overall changes are note-worthy.
    By Niyatee Shinde on Facebook

  2. Thanks so much for putting this up. Really fantastic blog which is can helps others. thanks for your informative
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