Charity sniffs out the right van for the job from Aylesbury Mercedes-Benz | Hughes Mercedes-Benz Commercial
Article By AO

Charity sniffs out the right van for the job

A pioneering charity which uses the amazing power of the dog’s nose to detect human diseases has chosen a pair of Mercedes-Benz vans to help with its life-saving work.

Milton Keynes-based Medical Detection Dogs purchased its new Citans from Dealer Hughes of Aylesbury. Finished in eye-catching liveries and riding on optional alloy wheels, both are fuel-efficient 109 CDI models – one is an Extra-long Crew van with second row of seats, the other a Long-bodied variant.

The charity is at the forefront of research into the fight against cancer and helps people with life-threatening conditions. Its Bio-Detection Dogs are trained to identify the distinctive scents of diseases, in samples such as urine, breath and swabs. Its Medical Alert Assistance Dogs, meanwhile, can detect minute changes in an individual’s personal odour, triggered by their condition.

Charity Chief Executive Officer Dr Claire Guest explained: “Dogs can identify tiny odour concentrations of around one part per trillion, the equivalent of a teaspoon of sugar in two Olympic-sized swimming pools. This gives them the ability to detect diseases.


“We train them to use that skill as assistance dogs for people with life-threatening conditions such as type one diabetes, and are researching their abilities to detect forms of cancer much earlier than is currently possible using conventional methods. Our pioneering work can help, therefore, to speed up the diagnosis process and impact on thousands of lives.”

Medical Detection Dogs trains several canine breeds, although labradors and spaniels have proved particularly adept at alerting humans to the presence of life-threatening illnesses. Rather than keeping them in kennels, its dogs are fostered out with families.

The charity is now using the Citans to collect the dogs from their homes and transport them in crates for training or to undertake their work with clients throughout the country.

Both previously used for demonstration purposes by Hughes of Aylesbury, the Citans replaced a pair of vans by a French manufacturer. The highly attractive deal put together by Hughes reflected its customer’s charitable status.

Dr Guest said: “We’ve previously leased our vehicles but did some calculations based on the fact that they’re covering the best part of 30,000 miles a year and concluded that it would now be more cost-effective to own them outright.

“There’s not a lot to choose between the two acquisition methods over the first three years, but we foresee a particular benefit once we get into years four and five, when our analysis suggests outright ownership becomes a better bet.”

“So we set out to buy the most reliable van on the market and, of course, Mercedes-Benz has an unrivalled reputation for the quality and longevity of its products. We’re confident that the Citans are very well made and robust enough to do a great job for us.”

Dr Guest continued: “Our new Mercedes-Benz vans look great and are attracting a lot of positive feedback from people who see them on the road, while the team members who’ve been using them are delighted. The Citan is easy to drive and very comfortable, as well as being highly economical to run.”

The Citan incorporates a number of fuel-saving BlueEFFICIENCY measures as standard, including the ECO start/stop function – which turns off the engine whenever the vehicle is stopped in traffic, then restarts it as soon as the driver depresses the clutch – low rolling resistance tyres and optimised alternator and battery management systems.

Powered by an advanced 90 hp engine, the 109 CDI model offers diesel returns of up to 65.7 mpg (combined cycle). Like all Mercedes-Benz vans, Medical Detection Dogs’ Citans came with three-year, unlimited mileage warranties and additional Mercedes-Benz MobiloVan support, which includes free, round-the-clock emergency roadside assistance for up to 30 years provided they continue to be maintained within the manufacturer’s official Dealer Network.

Hughes of Aylesbury Van Sales Manager Emma Cale said: “Medical Detection Dogs is engaged in ground-breaking work that has the potential to save people’s lives. We were delighted, therefore, to have the opportunity to support the charity by supplying its two new Citan vans.”

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