Dan, first off thank you for taking the time to speak with us. You are currently the Fleet
Manager for the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA). Tell us how you came to work at RAA and what you did prior.
DAN FELLOWS: I had worked at heavy truck and light truck shops before attending Nashville Auto Diesel College. After graduating and working for Ford dealers for a few years on ambulances, I came to RAA in the mid 90’s when they were looking for an experienced ambulance technician.
RAA has a reputation for being a high performing EMS system with response times that remain some of the fastest in the nation. As the Fleet Manager, you are always looking for ways to improve efficiency. What are some of the most important things that the RAA does on a daily basis to remain a high performing EMS system?
DAN FELLOWS: At RAA, the availability and reliability of the vehicles is paramount. To achieve efficiency in the System Status Management System we consistently want to keep vehicle turnaround time as low as possible. Fleet service technicians are given 15 minutes to determine if a vehicle currently in service can be repaired within the time frame or if the vehicle needs to be changed out. All of the vehicles at RAA are fully stocked and ready for service and thus changing vehicles takes a matter of minutes. Vehicles in for repair not only have the service needed done, but are also checked over for other possible needs along with checks on high potential failure areas, which have been designated from data collected on repair and preventative maintenance.
You recently received the National EMS10 Award for your innovative approach to using solar energy to supplement the electrical needs of ambulances. Can you give us some background on how this concept came about and how it felt to win the award?
DAN FELLOWS: The concept came from the need to have a resource vehicle’s battery charged in a location without access to a shore line. The most effective possibility was solar. After installation and testing, it was found the solution worked exceptionally well, and a trial was implemented to test the effect on standard Type III ambulances. Data was collected and the findings were very encouraging so the decision was made to continue installing the solar to the remaining Type III fleet. Receiving the EMS 10 award was very humbling for me as the solution was created out of necessity and to be honored by my peers in EMS is very gratifying.
An article entitled “How to Develop a Fleet Replacement Strategy” by Rob Lawrence and yourself was recently published on EMS World. The article had stated that fleet selection should be based on environmental, as well as operational, conditions. What are your thoughts on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and its potential?
DAN FELLOWS: As with all vehicle technologies, as each reaches its effective state, CNG has great potential in the EMS industry. Not unlike solar, CNG does have the potential for increasing the effectiveness of fleets while reducing the cost of operation when infrastructure is developed and available for its use.
The RAA has been a loyal customer of Excellance for many years. What are the most important aspects that you look for in a manufacturer and how does Excellance provide that for RAA?
DAN FELLOWS: At RAA, I look for the quality of a vehicle, the ability to come up with innovative design, and the ability to remain cost effective with future changes through a rechassis process. Excellance provides an avenue to each of these goals.
What are some of the biggest challenges you have had as a Fleet Manager and what are you most proud of?
DAN FELLOWS: I have many of the same challenges as other fleet managers, maintaining budgets, maintaining efficiency, and keeping a consistent product on the road for the service of citizens. I am most proud of seeing the hard work my staff and I have done bearing fruit month after month, year after year in a fast paced, high volume system.
Do you have any advice for individuals looking to become a Fleet Manager?
DAN FELLOWS: Be not afraid of data or what it has to tell you. Do not be hesitant to call upon other fleet managers to aid in answering questions you may not currently have the answers to. Always keep the needs of the crews and citizens in mind when designing, maintaining, and replacing vehicles.
To learn more, visit the official Richmond Ambulance Authority website.