NEW ambulances will soon be on the streets of Wearside.
The Mercedes vehicles, which are German-made, are being introduced in the next few weeks and it is hoped they will improve transportation times for patients.
The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is the first service in the UK to switch to the new 999 vehicles.
The organisation has bought 16 of the models, which will replace its existing fleet.
Changes to the ambulances are a roof spoiler that improves aerodynamics, as well as a sleek curved glass front.
Ambulance chiefs say that the fleet clocks up about 10million miles across the region each year.
Explaining the changes, Geoff Craik, who is head of fleet services with the NEAS, said: “These are the first vehicles of this type in the UK and the new design has been agreed with our current supplier, Wietmarscher Ambulances, to help reduce drag and improve the aerodynamics.
“The new design is certainly eye-catching, and these small improvements all help towards reducing our fuel bill and carbon dioxide output.
“Even if it’s a relatively small percentage of fuel saved on each vehicle, multiply that across a full fleet and it soon adds up.
“We will be closely monitoring the fuel consumption of these vehicles to see what the impact of these changes have made.”
The NEAS fleet is made up of accident and emergency ambulances, rapid response cars, hazard response team vehicles, and patient transport service ambulances.
The new ambulances will, according to the NEAS, help them hit recently brought in national targets, which say that a 999 ambulance must get to the scene of a category A life-threatening call-out within eight minutes, in 75 per cent of cases.
The NEAS also says it is planning to change where ambulances are situated as they look to hit the target time.
THE North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is currently staffed by 600 paramedics, 140 advanced technicians and 200 emergency care support workers.
There are 51 ambulance stations in the region, although there are a total of 63 sites.
The NEAS’s 999 communications centres, based in Newcastle, receive more than 1,000 emergency calls every day.