Last weekend, along with other members of our local instructor association, I visited the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance base at the Thruxton race track in Hampshire. Our association, SDIA, are raising money for the air ambulance and they kindly offered to show us around.
The journey was a round trip of 108 miles from home in Southsea, Portsmouth. Being entirely on motorways and fast dual carriageways the Leaf could have made it there and back without charging if I’d been prepared to arrive home almost empty. This is where range anxiety starts. I wanted to enjoy the drive without a constant mentality of driving to save miles at the end of the journey. Owning an electric car doesn’t have to be like this. So I was going to enjoy the drive at normal motorway speeds using the cruise control as I would in any other car.
A look at Zap Map showed rapid chargers on the way. With a short diversion Southampton M27 services has Ecotricity chargers. Sutton Scotney services n the A34 and a Genie Point at Thruxton itself. Then checking out PlugShare revealed new Genie Point chargers at Weyhill services on the A303 near Thruxton.
The easiest thing to do was to get to Thruxton and use the rapid charger in the car park. Initially I didn’t want to do this even though it’s the most sensible option because Genie Point charge a £1 connection fee on top of the 30p kW for the charge. This extra pound makes the electricity more expensive for half a battery full, it took 14kW. Then I had a talk to myself and told myself that even with the connection fee the cost of fuel is still a fraction of that I was paying for petrol. Running an EV can make you stingy.
I went for the easy option and used the Genie Point rapid at Thruxton. There was a small second box there as well with 2 type 2 connectors for slower charging. By the time I’d said hello to fellow SDIA members my battery was full. So I disconnected and we were taken to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance base at the aerodrome in the middle of the race circuit.
Members of SDIA have embraced fund raising for the Air Ambulance with a lot of enthusiasm. From our visit it’s easy to see why. Our goal is to raise £7,500 in 2019 which is half of a day’s running costs. The Air Ambulance is an essential service for Hampshire which is funded entirely by charitable donations.
Before we started raising money for the service I thought the Air Ambulance was simply a helicopter that got people to hospital quickly, they are so much more than that. They are teams of paramedics trained to a higher level than ambulance paramedics along with A and E consultants. These teams respond quickly travelling to where they are needed using the helicopter and two cars. It’s like taking an A and E department to the scene.
The helicopter is equipped with a stretcher and can take patients quickly to hospital. A life saver from remote rural areas which can’t be accessed by ambulances. It’s also a vital service for the Isle of Wight where they rely on trauma centres on the mainland and where a slow ferry trip is out of the question. It’s able to land in a an area the size of a tennis court and capable of night flight. Space is cleverly used with seating for the medical team around a stretcher that rotates and pulls out of the side door.
Training is important to the Air Ambulance crew. We were shown a room with a dummy laying in the middle of the floor and projectors hanging from the ceiling. The room can simulate different situations for training, such as a noisy night club or building site, by projecting onto all four walls.
I’m pleased to be part of the SDIA fund raising effort this year helping to keep this vital service operating. We have lots of events happening. Myself and two other SDIA members, Tanya and Peter, are doing a 5K run at Eastleigh Airport on the runway. After entering I wondered what they did with the aeroplanes. Then it was pointed out to me the run is at 4:00am!!!
It was a pleasant day catching up with fellow SDIA members and motivating us to raise more money for the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Air Ambulance. The journey was pleasant in the Leaf. Electric cars are so quiet and smooth it makes motorway journeys a pleasure. Charging isn’t an issue and keeping the car charged is easy and convenient. Yes, charging an electric car is convenient. The public charging infrastructure is constantly improving making running an EV on long trips easy.