This is my first book, a COVID lock down project of sorts to provide a distraction from my full-time job as a senior manager in the NHS, involved in urgent and emergency care for over 30 years. Northern European Emergency Vehicles brings together a love of travel and photography, combined with a personal and professional interest in the emergency services.

A Berlin Fire Department ambulance, based on a Mercedes chassis, seen in central Berlin in January 2020. (Northern European Emergency Vehicles, Amberley Publishing)

There are many books about specific areas of the emergency services, what perhaps makes this book different is the broad spectrum of emergency services vehicles included across Northern Europe. The book provides a window into the emergency services use of a variety of vehicles of every type from the general response vehicles across fire, police and medical services to the more specialist assets that a modern emergency service needs in the twenty first century. Alongside the ‘big three’ emergency services my journey takes the reader to some areas they may not be so familiar with including marine rescue, search and rescue, bomb disposal and even the chaplaincy at Beachy Head. I must also not forget the inclusion of some motorsport rescue vehicles, a nod to my other passion in life of rallying, where I frequently volunteer as a marshal and radio controller, experiences that could fill another volume!

In Stockholm, the city’s fireboat is moored in the centre of the city in October 2018, ready to respond. (Northern European Emergency Vehicles, Amberley Publishing)

My journeys across Northern Europe, often accompanied by my younger brother Simon, have provided access to services that many of us take for granted, provided by professionals and volunteers alike. But, as we perhaps run away from an incident, making that 999 or 112 call, spare a thought for the firefighter, search & rescue volunteer or perhaps police officer who put their lives on the line each and every day to save lives and protect our communities. It is beholden on us all to support those men and women with the equipment and resources they need to safely come home to their families after each and every shift or incident.

The Sisu hydraulic platform has a very impressive reach. (Northern European Emergency Vehicles, Amberley Publishing)

Inside the book you will find a breadth of photographs that might just surprise you, illustrating a variety of vehicles, solutions and approaches to common threats and incidents of every type and scale. The solutions range from the simple police personnel carrier to the specialist medical trauma ambulance or modern aerial fire appliance. Vehicle solutions are now perhaps more diverse than they have ever been with a wide range of vehicle manufacturers and conversion specialists engaged in meeting diverse service needs. Professional and volunteer emergency services share a pride in their service and the design, livery and even colour of their vehicles, which can reflect that pride. Common approaches or themes are illustrated in the book and are accompanied by some of the more ‘local’ and diverse approaches to livery and design. Differences between countries are also included, giving the reader the opportunity to compare the simple and more complex approaches to emergency service vehicles, alongside different manufacturers’ offerings and individual service solutions.

A parliamentary and diplomatic protection carrier is seen in central London, April 2014. (Northern European Emergency Vehicles, Amberley Publishing)

What started out as something to occupy a few spare hours and look back on some photograph files, soon blossomed into a virtual journey and reflection upon the emergency services across Northern Europe, I hope like me that you jump onboard and enjoy the ride.

Ian Davies's book Northern European Emergency Vehicles is available for purchase now.