Blind patients to travel with guide dogs in newly unveiled ambulance

The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) has unveiled a brand new type of ambulance that will enable blind patients to travel with their four-legged companion when in times of need.

The specially adapted vehicle was seen for the first time at the Cambourne Headquarters on Friday, December 20. The new EEAST vehicles are designed to maximize the safety of patients and crew members.

Cynthia Easeman is a guide dog owner who assisted with the redesign and understands what a difference the vehicle will make for people’s lives, saying:

“As a blind person in an ambulance you feel very much alone and isolated.”

She went on to refer to someone taking a guide dog away as being similar to someone else’s sight being taken away. The aim of the ambulance is to make the journey less stressful and give visually impaired people the confidence that fully-sighted people have.

EEAST’s associate director of operations support, Paul Henry, has used patient feedback to develop the ambulance. Speaking about this unique opportunity, Mr. Henry said:

“We have introduced a feature, which means assistance dogs can stay with their blind or partially sighted owner.”

With help from the Wietmarscher Ambulances and Security Vehicles (WAS), colours and contrast inside the ambulance will be altered. As a result, it is hoped that this will eliminate the barrier that most patients experience on journeys, and will provide an innovative solution. Vehicles that come into service in 2014 will feature these modifications.