Austin-Travis County EMS is on the forefront of sustainable vehicles
By Michael O. Benavides, EMT-P
Two of the biggest cost drivers for any EMS agency are vehicle maintenance and fuel costs. Some key suggestions
for increasing fuel efficiency and reducing fuel
and maintenance costs include reducing speed,
avoiding excessive idling and removing excess
weight. Obviously, many of these suggestions
present challenges to any EMS agency. In
most cases, our normal course of operations
run contrary to these tips.
Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS)
has always searched for new and innovative
solutions for greater safety, improved efficiency and reduction in operational costs—
all while having little to no negative impact on
Ambulance idle time was one area we
identified as a target that could potentially
save money and reduce energy consumption.
In 2010, as part of the city of Austin and
ATCEMS’ Green initiative, solar panel sys-
tems were installed on some of the vehicles in
the fleet. The solar panels allowed ambulances
to be turned off at the hospitals during the day
while the sun kept the batteries charged, so
the ambulance would restart.
During this time, we also learned that one
of our public safety partners was using a battery system to power onboard cameras when
their patrol cars were turned off.
ATCEMS contacted their system sup-
plier, Stealth Power, to see if we could work
together to develop an ambulance-specific
green energy solution. Our goal was to develop
a reliable system that provides power to the
patient care compartment without keeping
the engine running.
In order to create a system that would
meet ATCEMS’ needs, Stealth Power and
ATCEMS entered into a public-private
partnership. Stealth Power would develop a
green-powered battery for use on ambulances,
and ATCEMS would provide an ambulance
to Stealth Power for installation, testing and
proof of concept of their battery system.
After a three-year collaboration, the partnership yielded a cutting-edge, green mobile
technology called the Stealth Power EMS
series. In 2012, the first operational model was
installed and tested over the course of a year
and produced very positive results.