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Advice With Amateur Radio Installation in Hospital

byndhlptom

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Just an additional thought about remote operating.....

Assuming the equipment will be powered down 99% of the time:

1- Since you probably have the antennas disconnected (for lightning protection), they will have to be hooked up (to the correct radio)
2- When you need them operational, someone will have to go to the radios and turn everything on (along with the remote interface equipment).
3- Someone will have to initialize the remote software (or have a predone script to do it).
4- Since Murphy is always around, some sort of basic troubleshooting guide would be a good idea in case stuff does not power up correctly
5- A backup plan of some sort in case the trouble shooting does not fix the remote operation problem.
6- Some sort of LARGE sign at the remote equipment identifying the equipment's purpose and who to call if someone needs it moved/adjusted/has questions/etc
7- At end of training/drill/incident, someone needs to shutdown everything and disconnect the antennas
8- It would probably be a good idea to have remote software on more than one PC. They also should be marked so as to identify they are remotes.

no doubt I have left something out....

$.02
 

W9BU

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I think the plan is that the HF will be used if we have to communicate with another hospital many miles away.
What's your definition of "many miles"? From a sixth floor rooftop, your VHF radio should have reliable communications with stations 50 miles away...assuming that there is anyone to talk to. You need to know what frequencies they will be using, what agencies they might be able to reach that can assist you, and what message protocols they use. That's why you need to get in touch with your EMA director and possibly the local amateur radio community. You can't just have someone at your hospital pick up a microphone and start talking to someone that will be able to render assistance.
 

mmckenna

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I think the plan is that the HF will be used if we have to communicate with another hospital many miles away. And the VHF/UHF will be used for local stuff like Skywarn/ARES.

Has anyone had any experience with this?
http://www.remoterig.com/wp/?page_id=1188

Or something similar?

Again, I truly appreciate everyone's help. I'm passing along the information to my boss and doing my best to "find a solution" without flat out telling him it can't be done.
Remote control of consumer level stuff like this can be hit or miss.
I have not used that product, but I have used other systems. They always disappoint.
If it's sitting on the IP network, it will need to be well protected from the public side of things.
It'll probably work just fine, at first. But it'll sit for a while and one day you'll go to use it and it won't go. Someone will have to go up and kick it over. If you read the website they even mention that on the front page. Periodic rebooting will be required, and it'll always be at the worst possible time. Not what you want for "emergency" communications. Fine for consumer/hobby use, but that's it.

With proper grounding and lightning protection, as in commercial level stuff, not hobby level crap, there's not need to disconnect the antennas. No one runs up to the public safety radio systems in a thunderstorm and disconnects the antennas, the equipment just keeps running. While direct lightning strikes can cause damage, a properly set up system will likely survive.
Anyway, this isn't life safety communications stuff. Likely your hospital already has access to local/regional communications systems that are a lot better built than most hobbyists will be able to do. Around here all hospitals are on a common simplex frequency that allows communications with other local hospitals, EMS agencies, OES, etc. They also have access to regional systems, microwave networks, etc. While they do have some amateur equipment installed, none of them rely on it for emergency communications. It's used as a way to offload the critical systems for routine traffic.
Back in 2008 we had a big fiber cable cut in our area that took down all phone and internet service for 24 hours. The hospitals activated their emergency plans and went on with their day. Amateurs were involved and on site, but they were not dispatching ambulances, they were not handling patient info, they were not ordering in critical supplies. The amateur radio side of this is nice, it does give some capabilities, but keeping this realistic and realizing it's not a critical life safety system would be a wise approach. None of this equipment needs to be sitting their powered up 24x7. There will not be dispatchers listening full time. The equipment will sit there gathering dust until someone remembers that they are supposed to periodically test it. Eventually staff attrition results in it all being forgotten about until someone is cleaning out a room and discovers it.

I really think the approach needs to be a portable set up. All the radios in a shipping box with a power supply, manuals, accessories, etc. Have the antennas installed somewhere, maybe on an outbuilding. When needed, open the shipping case, plug in color coded coaxial cable to color coded coax jacks and plug the thing in. Having it well away from the real hospital work is a good idea. That prevents some challenges of having volunteers in patient care areas, in places where they shouldn't be. Also, putting all your antennas on the same roof top has a way of being a liability if something extreme happens. Better to have some physical separation between radio systems. If you have a 6 story building, that rooftop space is going to be more valuable for critical radio systems anyway. Don't clutter it up with amateur gear. Find an outbuilding, put up a mast, mount the antenna, use the existing coax.
 
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What's your definition of "many miles"? From a sixth floor rooftop, your VHF radio should have reliable communications with stations 50 miles away...assuming that there is anyone to talk to. You need to know what frequencies they will be using, what agencies they might be able to reach that can assist you, and what message protocols they use. That's why you need to get in touch with your EMA director and possibly the local amateur radio community. You can't just have someone at your hospital pick up a microphone and start talking to someone that will be able to render assistance.
The closest other hospital is in the same town, but our hospital owns others in other towns. I think the furthermost is a little less than a hundred. And there are plenty of others around.

I don't remember if I mentioned it, but we've got some classes coming up in August hosted by the state health department. Emergency communications is supposed to be part of it. Which is why my boss dusted off the radios and gave me this ... project. I will definitely mention all these concerns either during the class or before or after.
 

6079smithw

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(snip)
I really think the approach needs to be a portable set up. All the radios in a shipping box with a power supply, manuals, accessories, etc. Have the antennas installed somewhere, maybe on an outbuilding. When needed, open the shipping case, plug in color coded coaxial cable to color coded coax jacks and plug the thing in. Having it well away from the real hospital work is a good idea. That prevents some challenges of having volunteers in patient care areas, in places where they shouldn't be. Also, putting all your antennas on the same roof top has a way of being a liability if something extreme happens. Better to have some physical separation between radio systems. If you have a 6 story building, that rooftop space is going to be more valuable for critical radio systems anyway. Don't clutter it up with amateur gear. Find an outbuilding, put up a mast, mount the antenna, use the existing coax.
Makin' lotsa sense...

Hmmmmm... Outbuilding... Multiple hospitals... How 'bout a EmComm Trailer? Amateur clubs build them out here all the time. Surplus U-Haul trailers to 32' motorhomes; as simple or as fancy as you want it, goes where needed, hospital already has a truck to tow it with :)
No doubt plenty of info available at that upcoming class.

Just one more angle to look at IMHO....
 

KevinC

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned, but maybe I missed it.

Make sure none of your equipment on the roof isn't higher than any existing structure, otherwise you may need to do a FAA obstruction study (or whatever the official name is).
 

prcguy

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I just finished a RemoteRig install a few days ago and used an Icom IC-7100, which does HF, 2m and 70cm. I live on the west coast and this install is on the east coast so I can access east coast HF/2m and 70cm from anywhere. I have the Wi-Fi adapter in the radio control head side and can tether the control head to my cell phone from anywhere. You can also use the RemoteRigs inside a building plugged into the local LAN to access the radio guts on a top floor when your on the bottom floor. They are really nifty.

I've owned a Yaesu FT-857 and the 7100 is a much better performing radio for probably less money and it includes D-Star if that is something you play with. The Icom 7100 is also the favorite for RemoteRig use as its nearly plug and play where other radios are a chore to interface with the RemoteRig boxes and there is a speaker in the 7100 control head, which sits nicely on a desk, unlike any other radio control head.

The LDG IT-100 tuner is a great accessory for the Icom 7100 and RemoteRig as it will tune the HF antenna with the push of a button on the control head of the 7100. I think there may still be a sale on the Icom 7100s where you can get a $100 rebate from Icom.

A RemoteRig could be a great solution if you can place the radio guts on a top floor and run minimal coax to it. Just remember in an emergency the Internet may not be available for offsite RemoteRig use but if this is for internal hospital use the hospital LAN is usually working.



Yes, we installed a whole bunch of them in hospitals in Southern California. And they WORK...
 

mmckenna

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Problem is that they have been given an 718 HF rig, and that is not one of the supported radios.
The 8800 dual band radio is, so that's an option.

Do you have the funding to replace the HF radio? It would be cheaper than a few hundred feet of decent coaxial cable….
 

W5lz

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This is about the local hospital, not a general thing with all of them by any means.
From dealing with communicating with the ER for more than 20 years I have found that ER personnel are very seldomly given any idea of how to use the radio. Most of the time it fell on who ever was doing the paperwork in the ER, and their medical knowledge was sometimes lacking. So, we sort of got into the habit of filling in the usual gender, approximate age, major complaint and not much further information that would prepare the ER for what we were about to dump on them. Most times that 'report' never left the persons desk. That was the 'professional' stuff, you know? There are few hospitals that could afford to have a trained communications person to deal with the professional side, much less adding amateur radio to that mixture. If the need should ever arise, I think what will happen is that someone with the EMS will be sent to conduct emergency communications. Locally, that'll probably be a ham, maybe, if they can find one willing to do it.
This really isn't a simple thing at all...
 

prcguy

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If a RemoteRig sounds like a good option they would be way ahead selling the 718 and purchasing an Icom 7100. Someone else mentioned powering down the equipment and disconnecting antennas when not in use, which is good practice. When the RemoteRig is powered down it also turns off the radio. You can also add a powered coaxial relay or two in the antenna path so when the RemoteRig is powered down the antennas will switch away from the radio and ground out for some addational lightning protection.

Problem is that they have been given an 718 HF rig, and that is not one of the supported radios.
The 8800 dual band radio is, so that's an option.

Do you have the funding to replace the HF radio? It would be cheaper than a few hundred feet of decent coaxial cable….
 

mmckenna

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If a RemoteRig sounds like a good option they would be way ahead selling the 718 and purchasing an Icom 7100.
That's what I'm thinking.

But, it depends if they are really willing to throw more money at this. Sounds like the equipment may have been grant funded. If the hospital is willing to fund the remote rig and a new HF rig, that's a good sign. If they aren't, then getting more coaxial cable is likely out, also.

I think, as W5LZ suggested, that most of the time this stuff will be sitting there collecting dust unless the OP or someone else gets their ham ticket and periodically puts it to use. Well intentioned drills usually go like gangbusters until someone forgets, the drill gets cancelled and never rescheduled, or some new wonder-technology comes along.
 

W9BU

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Well intentioned drills usually go like gangbusters until someone forgets, the drill gets cancelled and never rescheduled, or some new wonder-technology comes along.
A local ARES group has been working pretty closely with local hospitals. They have radios and antennas at both hospitals and the group conducts monthly exercises where they test the radios and their ability to communicate around the county. Of course, this does require that a member of the team get to the hospital in order to operate the radio because none of the hospital staff have the time or interest to get on the air as part of their jobs.
 

wwhitby

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Hospital Radio Guy,

Is there a reason why you need the antenna on top of the six story tower? I understand about height and distance, but would putting the antenna on a mast on top of the 1 story building work just as well for you? The lower height would be offset by the increased costs for the appropriate cable and the increased installation costs. You'd be surprised at how far you can transmit and receive with a quality antenna on a 30 foot mast with loss cable.

I would also recommend that the radios be placed if possible near the "scene of the action" where decisions will be made and people situated in emergencies. The radio station that my ARES group has at a local hospital is located in the Emergency Department, close enough to where the folks in charge will be located during emergency situations.
 
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Not knowing all the information as to Hospital Radio Guy and what his regular hospital job is, these are my thoughts.

Think about it. Is the boss going to let Hospital Radio Guy spend hours on end running here, running there, talking to this guy, talking to that guy, measuring this, measuring that, spending his time on the radio/antenna installation when he should be doing his regular hospital job... the job he was hired and paid to do in the first place?

There's always the "other" option that no ones mentioned to Hospital Radio Guy.

Walk up to the Boss, hand him all the radio stuff and say...

"Boss... I know you're counting on me to solve the proper installation of all this equipment, but to tell you the truth, the logistics of the situation are way more than I can handle right now... and I do have to do the job I was hired for.

BaoFeng Blogger KN4OTS
 

DaveNF2G

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OT: Most job descriptions nowadays include the line, "And other duties as assigned."

He is doing the job he was hired for.
 

prcguy

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During most of my career when asked to do something outside of my expertise or pay grade, I became an expert on the subject and nailed it, delighting my superiors every time. That's how I retired as a Principal Engineer with nearly three times the pay that I hired in at 18yrs earlier.

I say become an expert on the subject, nail it and go on to the next project. Fortunately its a fun project and it could be worse.

Not knowing all the information as to Hospital Radio Guy and what his regular hospital job is, these are my thoughts.

Think about it. Is the boss going to let Hospital Radio Guy spend hours on end running here, running there, talking to this guy, talking to that guy, measuring this, measuring that, spending his time on the radio/antenna installation when he should be doing his regular hospital job... the job he was hired and paid to do in the first place?

There's always the "other" option that no ones mentioned to Hospital Radio Guy.

Walk up to the Boss, hand him all the radio stuff and say...

"Boss... I know you're counting on me to solve the proper installation of all this equipment, but to tell you the truth, the logistics of the situation are way more than I can handle right now... and I do have to do the job I was hired for.

BaoFeng Blogger KN4OTS
 

mmckenna

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During most of my career when asked to do something outside of my expertise or pay grade, I became an expert on the subject and nailed it, delighting my superiors every time. That's how I retired as a Principal Engineer with nearly three times the pay that I hired in at 18yrs earlier.

I say become an expert on the subject, nail it and go on to the next project. Fortunately its a fun project and it could be worse.

^^^ This is the difference between "just doing my job" and those that get ahead, excel and advance.
If I "just did my job", I'd still be pulling cable. Instead, I grabbed up these sorts of challenges where ever I could. I took the time to research, learn and figure things out. That leads to more opportunities, training, advancement.
Like prcguy, I've tripled my pay in 22 years. I went from a field tech to an engineer and have 4 others working under me. Each one of them was picked because they see challenges like this the same way. I don't hire people that give me the "not my job" crap. I empower my team to make decisions, solve problems and get things done.

Having a manager that will challenge you and give you opportunities to increase your knowledge is a rare gift. Don't screw it up by claiming "not my job". There's an entire world of "not my job'ers" out there and we don't need more of them. There is no challenge in that. It's the easy way out. It's fine if you want to stick in the same job for the rest of your life, but it's not how you advance.
 
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