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AMR Placer County Plans for the Future?

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BirkenVogt

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Anybody have the low down on whether AMR in Northern California is going to or has already extended the Passport system to cover the west side of Placer County up to Colfax area?

Birken
 

BirkenVogt

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Please expand...do you figure, that they figure, that Roseville, Rocklin, Placer Hills, and possibly CDF/PCFD will take away the ambulance business eventually? They seem to be fighting awful hard against that right now. AMR is a tough nut to crack. They give no inclination of what they are really thinking.

Birken
 

selgaran

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I think he is saying that AMR is a cheap-a** for-profit company that will spend as little money as possible. If their current radio system (whatever it is up there in Placer) is working, they won't spend the money.
 

mkewman

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selgaran said:
I think he is saying that AMR is a cheap-a** for-profit company that will spend as little money as possible. If their current radio system (whatever it is up there in Placer) is working, they won't spend the money.
up here, amr simply uses cdf/local fire for dispatch. it works... although the night shifters usually take a couple calls some nights when they're sleeping ;-)

if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

why would AMR put up a passport system when it works fine? besides, trunked systems wouldn't fare too well in rural placer county.
 

BirkenVogt

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I always figured that they used another high band freq for dispaching their units. They can't just monitor fire because between CDF, Placer County SO, Roseville, Rockin, and transfers they would be bound to miss calls...which they don't. I thought the reason for switching their central and East Bay operations to Passport was to eliminate the backhaul and system maintenance they are presumably still doing. Also if they are dispatching just off that one tower in downtown Sacramento like their license says then that has got to have lousy coverage up beyond Auburn. But I really don't know how they run their operation.

Birken
 

mkewman

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well, i could be wrong. i am simply a scanner freq. i have no inside information. for all i know they could be using nextels to dispatch and i just don't know it. but from the conversations i've had with paramedics, it sounds like they just listen to fire.
 

BirkenVogt

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Give a listen to 155.295 (same as Marysville City Fire) that is their main dispatch. I have only started monitoring it recently.

Birken
 

Duster

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AMR Sacramento does actually use Nextel for their dispatch activities, particularly in Sac County. A couple years ago, some moron in their admin forgot to renew one of their FCC licenses and one of their freqs lapsed. They started using Nextels in Sac County and never stopped. AMR Placer and Yolo (as of my last info) still use a VHF radio freq (unsure which one, since I don't actively monitor them), but crews are primarily dispatched on alphanumeric pagers, which gives them all the dispatch info they need for their PCR's (Patient Care Reports). While they do actively monitor local FD freqs, they are not allowed to self-dispatch off another agency's information (yeah right...doesn't mean you can't be halfway there by the time your pager goes off...)

That's the best info I have right now. I have a good friend who works AMR Placer. When I talk to him, I'll see if anything's changed.
 

selgaran

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AMR Yolo is on 155.235 simplex, on which I occasionally also hear AMR dispatch talking to Placer units. My guess is that the dispatcher is covering two channels at that time, and is simulselected so the units know s/he is busier, or perhaps just selected up on the wrong channel.

The crews are most definitely monitoring the FD channels, as I've frequently heard things like "312, incoming traffic Woodland" relayed to dispatch when a crew hears a call before they get it from dispatch.
 

pfish

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selgaran said:
AMR Yolo is on 155.235 simplex, on which I occasionally also hear AMR dispatch talking to Placer units. My guess is that the dispatcher is covering two channels at that time, and is simulselected so the units know s/he is busier, or perhaps just selected up on the wrong channel.

The crews are most definitely monitoring the FD channels, as I've frequently heard things like "312, incoming traffic Woodland" relayed to dispatch when a crew hears a call before they get it from dispatch.
I'll second all that. I often see AMR units roll out as Davis dispatch is toning out a station. Sometimes they relay back to their dispatch of the incoming call, but I've seen them roll out Code 2 until they get the assignment from their dispatch. At that time, they get up on the Davis system or Blue fire (if they dont have a 800mhz mobile) and let Davis know they're enroute.

Also, 155.235 has a 141.3 PL.
 

ff-paramedic

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I actually work for AMR, and my wife works in our dispatch center as a supervisor. There are plans in place for a passport system, but they have been in the works for a while, and no one will say when they actually will have it in service. Yolo County is using 155.235 for dispatch (although fire is monitored and units will head toward the call code 2 until actually dispatched), units also respond with fire either via the departments 800 radio, or the VHF system. In Placer AMR is using 155.295, and also will respond with fire on their respective systems. In Sacramento they were using 155.265 until a year or so ago, and they lost their license for that frequency, so they are indeed using Nextels. The 911 units in Sacramento will respond on the TRS, then they will use the Nextel or the Placer channel to communicate with our dispatch center.
 

BirkenVogt

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Hasn't anybody wondered why they don't just reapply for that freq in Sac County or a new one? With the FCC's recent decisions high band freqs are no longer in short supply.

As to the Sacramento dispatch center, I have been listening for a couple days and they seem very efficient. I am wondering how they work EMD there. I heard the dispatcher say, "stand by, on 911" today. Normally an ambulance dispatch center will only get the call nature and location from the PSAP and not get the opportunity to do any interrogation themselves. How does this work?

Birken
 

digitaljim6

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Someone else licensed on that channel when it became available and before AMR realized the blunder. There is no grace period for expired licenses. As for a new freq on VHF in Sac, it is unlikely that they would have found one that could be coordinated for their area of operation and that they would be eligible for. That's why their old freq was snapped up so fast by someone else.

"no longer in short supply"? I haven't seen any rules modifications that added anything to the freq table in 90.20 since the narrowband channels were added. Remember, the narrowband channels can't be used if there are still wideband adjacent users in the same area. It will be YEARS (deadline is 2013 I believe) before many of the narrowband channels are usable, especially in the central valley where there is less topographical protection than in other areas. As long as the wideband licenses are not modified, they can stay wide until the bitter end.

In some areas, AMR is the 911 answering point for fire/EMS and not just an ambulance dispatch center.. In those cases, they take the calls after the initial answering agency transfers it to them. An example is "Lifecom" in Modesto/Salida.




BirkenVogt said:
Hasn't anybody wondered why they don't just reapply for that freq in Sac County or a new one? With the FCC's recent decisions high band freqs are no longer in short supply.

As to the Sacramento dispatch center, I have been listening for a couple days and they seem very efficient. I am wondering how they work EMD there. I heard the dispatcher say, "stand by, on 911" today. Normally an ambulance dispatch center will only get the call nature and location from the PSAP and not get the opportunity to do any interrogation themselves. How does this work?

Birken
 

Kirk

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Is anyone else troubled at the thought of a 911-response ambulance company relying on Nextel for dispatch?

I hope I misunderstood and that the ambulances are dispatched on the county fire system in areas where they hold 911 contracts.

I assume in areas where AMR uses a single simplex VHF channel for dispatch, they have a mountaintop tone remote to extend coverage? Do the EMTs/medics carry VHF HTs in that case, or just Nextel?
 

BirkenVogt

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When I say "no longer in short supply" I mean that the FCC has relaxed and is now allowing new wideband applications again, however I can't recall if it would be OK in this case since the freq is now gone. But it can't be that hard to find a narrowband freq instead. My company has licensed 5 narrowband channels recently, and we are line of sight to Sacramento. Only one has co-channel interference from Sacramento.

Kirk, ambulances are generally not dispatched on county fire systems, Nevada County and Eldorado County are exceptions. But I don't know if Eldorado has private ambulances or not. I agree that Nextel is not a very good idea. But many times it takes a big disaster to make them see that.

Hopefully the Sac County ambulances have the placer freq in their radios for backup. The transmitter site for the Placer County system is located on that big tower near Garfield and Auburn Blvd per the license anyway. So it would work fine in Sacramento if necessary though the traffic might get heavy.

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digitaljim6

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There may be an easier time for business/industrial applicants, but not for public-safety because all of the 150-174 freqs are in use in the same area or they are adjacent and close enough. A narrowband channel next to a wideband channel in the same area can't be used because it overlaps the wideband channel's spectrum. The coordinators won't approve it unless both parties agree to accept any interference. If they are too close in distance or frequency, the FCC may not license it unless a rule waiver is requested and approved. Most agencies are not willing to increase the likelihood of interference to their existing operations.

If it were easier, some of the foothill counties would not have spent thousands of dollars on lawyers, engineers and coordinators to find channels that would work and would make it through the coordination process. (like on 159-161 channels that are interservice shared - Nor Cal counties in this freq range that come to mind are Calaveras, El Dorado, Placer, El Dorado, Fresno, Tuolumne, Contra Costa, Yolo, Santa Clara and Sonoma.) Now that those freqs are also gone for the most part, central vally applicants for new 150-174 conventional base/mobile systems in public safety are usually out of luck.

In 450-470 business/industrial, you can get coordinated on the same frequency in the same area as another licensee without any trouble. That doesn't happen in public-safety. Here's an example:

461.100
WPIX 341 Telecomm Engineering at Shingle Springs
WPMN399 Lagorio Communications at Pine Hill

The straight-line distance between these two is a little over 6 miles. As I recall, minimum co-channel separation for public-safety ranges from 32 km to over 100km (20mi to over 62mi) depending on frequency and radio service. There are examples like this all over California. If you look hard enough, you'll even find unrelated licensees on the same business/industrial freq at the same site...but not on public-safety.

Right now, public-safety agencies in the central valley area have to wait for 150-174 public-safety channels to be vacated (when the existing user agency moves to another band) or for adjacent people to go narrow in order to get something successfully licensable right now. Just ask APCO's local frequency advisors for Nor Cal or the people at IMSA - they'll tell you. Here is some specific info on narrowbanding for public-safety:
http://www.apcointl.org/frequency/documents/NarrowbandOrder.html
a link to APCO's Nor Cal site:
http://www.napco.org
and a link to IMSA:
http://www.imsasafety.org/

There are several instances in California where ambulances (private companies, too) are dispatched on County fire systems. They may still have and use company channels for routine traffic, too. Southern San Joaquin County (Manteca, Lathrop, Tracy) is one that comes to mind. The City of Stockton dispatched AMR ambulances on the fire freqs in those towns. Not sure if it is still used like that - prior to May 1. That was when AMR started contract dispatching for fire/EMS in the non-Stockton parts of San Joaquin County.

BirkenVogt said:
When I say "no longer in short supply" I mean that the FCC has relaxed and is now allowing new wideband applications again, however I can't recall if it would be OK in this case since the freq is now gone. But it can't be that hard to find a narrowband freq instead. My company has licensed 5 narrowband channels recently, and we are line of sight to Sacramento. Only one has co-channel interference from Sacramento.

Kirk, ambulances are generally not dispatched on county fire systems, Nevada County and Eldorado County are exceptions. But I don't know if Eldorado has private ambulances or not. I agree that Nextel is not a very good idea. But many times it takes a big disaster to make them see that.

Hopefully the Sac County ambulances have the placer freq in their radios for backup. The transmitter site for the Placer County system is located on that big tower near Garfield and Auburn Blvd per the license anyway. So it would work fine in Sacramento if necessary though the traffic might get heavy.

Birken
 

digitaljim6

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Kirk said:
Is anyone else troubled at the thought of a 911-response ambulance company relying on Nextel for dispatch?
Absolutely.

Kirk said:
I hope I misunderstood and that the ambulances are dispatched on the county fire system in areas where they hold 911 contracts.
Not always. AMR is using a business/industrial Passport system in Stanislaus and San Joaquin Counties to dispatch their units with varying success. If they could talk their vendor into putting voting receivers all over the place, they might be able to get coverage like the county fire or city systems have. Without that, their portables have a real problem. AMR is not only a 911 contract ambulance provider in this area, they are also San Joaquin County's contract fire/EMS dispatch center now.

Kirk said:
I assume in areas where AMR uses a single simplex VHF channel for dispatch, they have a mountaintop tone remote to extend coverage? Do the EMTs/medics carry VHF HTs in that case, or just Nextel?
Also, not always. On VHF, they are mostly using non-mountaintop sites in most parts of the central valley because of licensing restrictions they cannot get around. They use alphanumeric pagers for some of their dispatch activities - not the best choice in terms of lack of back-up AC power for the paging transmitters. There are many commercial two-way sites that have no emergency power and many paging transmitters in those sites.
 

BirkenVogt

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It may be a stupid question then, I am not that familiar with Part 90 but does it prevent a private ambulance company from using an I/B channel instead of a PW channel? It seems awfully counterproductive to not allow AMR in Sac County any channel, as opposed to giving them one they might be interfered on in the outlying areas, but at least they will have it. Some creative wording in the application might help this as well. "Applicant provides medical transport services"

Birken
 
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