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Personality: Dan Fellows

Spotlight on Richmond Ambulance Authority innovator and award winner

3/17/2016, 10:45 p.m.
Dan Fellows, fleet manager for the Richmond Ambulance Authority will go as far as the sun to ensure the highest ...

Dan Fellows, fleet manager for the Richmond Ambulance Authority will go as far as the sun to ensure the highest quality of service for the residents of Richmond.

The Richmond native stood out among 60 finalists to receive top honors for his innovative use of solar energy to supplement the electrical needs of ambulances. He is responsible for the design and day-to-day operations of RAA’s fleet of 40 ambulances.

His above-and-beyond dedication was recognized at the national 2016 EMS Today Conference by the Journal of Emergency Medical Services.

The EMS10 Award, presented Feb. 24 at the conference in Baltimore, recognizes 10 individuals who have found ways to improve clinical or operational practices in the EMS industry.

One of the issues EMS workers face in the field is keeping onboard electronics like communications systems and computers charged when the ambulance is away from a power plug. To keep all of these systems charged and ready, ambulance engines have to idle constantly. This puts a strain on the engine and electrical system, and significantly increases fuel costs.

“We first tried generators and standard electric cabling,” explains Mr. Fellows. “Solar seemed to be the best possible solution to the problem.”

Based on his recommendation, RAA agreed to install solar panels on one of their ambulances. After working through the logistics of mounting and wiring the panels to the vehicle, they soon discovered that solar energy could in fact power the ambulance’s entire electrical system.

Mr. Fellows performed a yearlong evaluation to collect data on the efficiency of solar power in ambulances before the entire fleet was converted. The cost savings and positive environmental impact proved to be a winning combination. While the solar panels don’t generate enough energy to allow trucks to be completely turned off between calls, the ambulance engine only powers heating and air conditioning systems. The solar panels power all of the electronics.

Even with the overwhelming success of his idea, he admits that his nomination was a complete surprise.

“I was in disbelief when I received the email congratulating me on being nominated for the award,” says Mr. Fellows. This combination of diligence and humility has defined Mr. Fellows 20-year career with RAA — qualities that have not gone unnoticed by the organization’s leadership.

“Dan is a creative manager who is constantly looking for solutions to improve efficiency,” says RAA CEO Chip Decker. “The solar panels on our ambulances have led to noticeable cost reductions. We are proud of Dan and happy to see him recognized on a national level.”

This is the third EMS10 Award for the RAA. The latest award makes RAA one of only two EMS organizations in the United States to be recognized with three such awards. The other three-time winner is MedStar, which is based in Fort Worth, Texas.

So what’s next for RAA’s 2016 great innovator?

“I’ll continue to collect data and continue to develop more efficient emergency vehicles,” Mr. Fellows says. Here’s this week’s innovative Personality, Dan Fellows:

Date and place of birth: September 1972 in Richmond.