Officials: UK ambulances often put out of order due to ‘misfueling’

National Health Services officials said the problem happens so often that some agencies are looking into audio alerts to remind EMS providers to fill up with the right fuel


By EMS1 Staff

LONDON — An investigation recently revealed that UK EMS crews using the wrong fuel to fill up emergency vehicles is a common occurrence.

The Telegraph reported that weeks of ambulance time is being lost annually due to EMS providers “misfueling,” with at least 769 reported incidents since 2012.

An investigation recently revealed that UK EMS crews using the wrong fuel to fill up emergency vehicles is a common occurrence. (Photo/London Ambulance Services NHS Trust)
An investigation recently revealed that UK EMS crews using the wrong fuel to fill up emergency vehicles is a common occurrence. (Photo/London Ambulance Services NHS Trust)

The most common mistake is that EMS providers are accidentally filling the ambulances up with regular gas instead of diesel, which means the ambulance must then be recovered and have its engine drained.

The investigation found that the mistakes have caused ambulances to be put out of order for days, and sometimes weeks.

National Health Services officials said that the persistent problem is causing some agencies to look into audio alerts to remind EMS providers to use the right kind of fuel.

South East Coast Ambulance Service was found to have spent at least $73,000 on repairing ambulances due to at least 156 fuel mishaps, an amount that could have funded two paramedic salaries for a full year.

“These mistakes not only waste taxpayers’ money, but also are a threat to patient safety,” TaxPayers’ Alliance Chief Executive John O’Connell said.  

The agency said they have begun using “bunkering hubs,” which are owned by NHS, instead of regular gas stations in an effort to mitigate the problem.

“As a trust we have implemented control measures to reduce the risk of these events occurring by ensuring all our vehicles have a label fitted to the vehicle fuel flap indicating to staff the correct grade of fuel to be used,” a spokesperson for the South East Ambulance Service said. “We have also trialed audible fuel alerts and various misfuel devices, but we have seen a drop in these type of events over the last three years.”

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