Click here to View Our Other Publication
Drive Life : May 28th 2010
1HERSA1 F016 Subscribe and SAVE with a Herald sports package Subscribe to The Sydney Morning Herald and The Sun-Herald for an introductory 26 week trial. Get the latest news every Friday to Monday with a 4-day package for only $129 -- saving you 34%* off the newsstand price. With local and international news, sport, entertainment and a range of sections, the Herald provides you with everything you need to get your morning off to a good start, delivered right to your home! To subscribe call 13 66 66 and quote 4-DAY or visit subscribe.smh.com.au/4day ur *Offer is valid until June 6, 2010 and only available to new subscribers where normal home delivery of the Herald exists. If delivery to the nominated address is not possible, a full refund will be paid within 10 days. Prices GST-inclusive. A deduction of $129 will be made upfront for a delivery period of 26 weeks. Minimum subscription term for this offer is 26 weeks. Cancellation fees may apply for subscriptions paid upfront and terminated prior to expiry. Subscriptions are for individual use only and cannot be sold. Delivery to secured apartments and office buildings is subject to delivery capability. To check if delivery exists, or for alternative subscriptions packages call 13 66 66. 16 Drive Life May 28, 2010 drive.com.au Lifesavers make a splash SAFETY CONCEPTS SALLY DOMINGUEZ The quality of real-world emergency vehicles falls disappointingly short of the kitted-up cars of film crime fighters. In pursuit . . . (clockwise from top) the Batmobile; Porsche's detachable ambulance unit; Ford Rescue X. Photo: Reuters The Batmobile exemplifies all that a cop-specific law enforcement vehicle can be. Starting with chain-slicers, rockets, a built-in BAT-ering ram and an emergency stop parachute and culminating in the ''ceramic fractal armour panels'' of the Tumbler in the latest movies, the Batmobile ensured that Batman was always alert, never alarmed. Let's face it, the last thing we want is our emergency personnel worrying about their own safety when they are coming to rescue us. Truth is though, cop cars the world over are closer to the Bluesmobile, essentially an amped-up sedan. While they may have sophisticated computer systems and performance upgrades, there's a dearth of ergonomic and safety innovation. The new Ford Police Interceptor, for example, has finally introduced seats designed to accommodate a gun holster -- some 14 years after a 1993 US study indicated 60 per cent of officers request lower back support bolsters to compensate for holsters. Ambulances are less celebrated in movies but are another vital emergency vehicle in which a lack of ergonomic design may be a factor in the alarming record of occupant injury. Fundamentally, we want to think that once we are inside our rescuer's vehicle we are safe -- right? But US research into ambulance interior design suggests the vehicles have ''hostile'' surfaces even for restrained occupants and, according to a Monash University study, ambulance patient compartments are one of the few passenger vehicles without automotive occupant protection safety systems. Another Monash study covering NSW, reported 162 ambulance crashes, 71 fire vehicle crashes, 805 police car and 17 police motorcycle accidents over four years with 10 fatalities and a 51 per cent injury rate -- 10 per cent higher than NSW's general rate. Surprisingly few vehicle designers have comprehensively explored solutions to emergency vehicle requirements but with the re- evaluation worldwide of drive trains, materials and technologies, the time is ripe for innovation. From the mid-1970s until 1984, the Porsche Research Centre worked with the German ministry for research and technology to find a solution to emergency response that would address injury during transport, maintenance of the vehicle and rapid deployment for emergencies. Porsche designed a solution that was literally out of the box: a modular moulded-plastic detachable rescue unit carried by conventional vans via a supplementary suspension unit. The SAVE box was outfitted with an ergonomically considered interior and natty ''combined case/drawer'' stowage system that was purported to have double the life span of its carrier vehicles. A similar concept was piloted several years ago along 1000 kilometres of the Eyre Highway in Western Australia. Five insulated stainless steel containers, known as Emergency Response Equipment Receptacles (ERER), containing fundamental equipment were proposed by MUARC and RoadWise WA to service this remote highway. The Porsche prototype worked on the German philosophy of ''Notarzt'' or ''bringing the doctor to the patient'' . The polar opposite approach is to get the patient to the doctor as quickly as possible, and for that look no further than the Ford ''Rescue X'' concept created by Robert Engelman at Ford Europe. Anyone who has crashed and burnt on a ski hill might flinch at the prospect of a high-speed exit inside a high tech ''blood bucket'' but the designer promises you will be ''safe like an egg''. Mounted on its two- seater chassis the patient module contains Computer Aided Surgery equipment that reads out vital statistics to the driver. Like the Porsche model, the separation of the patient treatment module from the carrier vehicle probably manages maintenance and wear and tear on both components more efficiently than an all-in-one ambulance. A police car is a particular breed. It needs to carry in a confined space occupants with often violently opposed views, it needs to be agile yet robust and, importantly, it needs authoritative street presence. US police would no doubt add that it needs to not explode in a high-speed rear-end impact: 21 of their peers have been killed or burnt in exploding Ford Crown Victoria patrol cars. Stacy Dean Stephens, an American ex-cop, has designed E7, ''the world's first purpose-built patrol vehicle'' (although Ford and GM are hot on his tail). The E7 is singularly muscular with a punching nose, fang-like vertical bumpers and extension red white and blue LED lighting. Stacy emphasises the importance of this commanding presence, noting that at police academy officers are told to use one level of force higher than what is being presented to him/her, and the first level of force to present to the public is a professional appearance The ripped body of the E7 houses a bunch of innovative firsts for policing: a BMW turbo diesel engine with better fuel economy than any current cop car, a ''transport'' module for the rear compartment that hermetically seals that area from the front cabin and features two drain plugs for easy hose-out, and cut-outs moulded into the backrest of each seat to accommodate cuffed hands. GM plans to export the Statesman to the US where it will be rebranded as a Caprice and Ford has a Taurus- based Interceptor with front-wheel- drive. As the force behind the E7, Stephens sees big player action as validation of his work. And as a former police officer he is ''thrilled to death if the E7 is the catalyst for improving what officers have today''.
May 21st 2010
June 4th 2010