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Helo Communications

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mike_s104

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in the past few weeks I have heard a helicopter called in for a EMS calls. I have heard Berkeley Co and Jefferson Co tell the crews on the ground that the helicopter will be on Helo2 or Helo1. what are these? I have always heard them on some of the common EMS freqs or MED channels.

Today, I heard Berkeley Co. on 155.34 tell AirCare to contact the ground crews on 468.25. I then set another scanner to search from 468-469 and heard the helicopter on 468.000, which is the input for MED1.

I don't think the EMS units in Berkeley County have MED channels since getting new radios. I would think they would have another radio (if not the same) that would be able to do the MED channels. I have heard the 911 center for Berkeley County patch Washington Co. MD's fire freq to a TAC channel on the new system. why can' they do they with MED channels as needed or have a new TG for each MED channel and leave them patched all the time.

I then heard the helo talking to a hospital (didn't catch who) on a MED channel.
 
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dintimid8or

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155.340 and 155.400 are common frequencies for EMS. They can be used by medical command to field units, aeromedical to ground or mutual aid EMS units.
 
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Karl

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Helo 1 & Helo 2

Confirming Helo 1 as 468.000 in a direct mode and Helo 2 as 468.025 in a direct mode. this comes from frequency counting an actual portable on the system. The XTS 2500's do have the capability to do simplex conventional and not just trunked.
 

mike_s104

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Karl said:
Confirming Helo 1 as 468.000 in a direct mode and Helo 2 as 468.025 in a direct mode. this comes from frequency counting an actual portable on the system. The XTS 2500's do have the capability to do simplex conventional and not just trunked.
I guess Berkeley Co. EMS does not know how to do any other mode then trunked digital. Thanks for clearing that up.
 

mike_s104

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Again...

Tonight there was another wreck in which a chopper was requested. I was in the middle of putting stuff back from being away for the holiday so I didn't catch specifics on the incident when it was dispatched. BUT...near the end, I heard a chopper talking to Martinsburg Tower on 123.4000MHz. I then heard Berkeley Co. EMS on a TG talking about the chopper. The chopper was then heard on 154.2800MHz. Not sure who they were talking to but were saying they were unable to talk to the Berkeley Co. ground units on the Fire/EMS frequency. Then heard a dispatcher talking to a unit on scene and explained the chopper was calling them but heard no response on their Fire/EMS freq. Was the chopper trying to talk to them on the analog dispatch freq or what? The unit on scene told med comm for the chopper to call them on their "low band" at 33.900MHz. Another unit said 33.900MHz or 155.3400MHz. The dispatcher asked for the PL and the ground unit didn't know it. What Hell? They have a multi-million dollar system that is so worthless when it comes to communicating with other agencies or services that they regress to 20 year old technology to communicate? AGAIN...why can they not patch any common EMS freq like the MED channels or common ones in the 155MHz range to a single or multiple TGs? One would think that they would be able to have a TG for each MED channel and the others. It’s a cluster (insert proper 4 letter word) every time they are trying to talk to a chopper. I thought the idea of the new system was to have interoperability not only for the state but to facilitate communications to other agencies? If so, not off to a good start in one area in my opinion. The Governor brags about talking across the state but then it comes down to practice use, it doesn't work well. I bet they tested and tested again to make sure the Governor didn't look stupid when his chit-chat happened. Yes, I think the system is really good compared to others, but come on...when a medic unit cannot talk directly to a chopper heading to a LZ, that's not good. Why not just use cell phones or CBs?
 

freqhopping

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I too have noticed WV departments don't have it together when dealing with medevacs. I was working on a safety crew at Summit Point and we had to fly someone out. Naturally I started scanning my medevac channels so I would know when they would arrive. I had to tell the crew of the LZ piece which freq the helo was on because they had no clue. :roll:
 

dintimid8or

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I can speak on behalf of fire/ems units and communications centers and from my standpoint many of the difficulties in coordinating aeromedical evacuations stem from the Medical Command centers throughout the state. I have spoken to some from various medical command centers who did not know how to translate GPS readings, who did not know what frequencies should be used and so on. Dispatchers can receive good information from field units, relay good information to medical command and then after that we have no control.
 

mike_s104

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I'm not saying anything at all is wrong with the dispatchers, chopper attendants, or fire/ems personnel. what I'm basically saying is the multi-million dollar system should have built-in capabilities to allow EASY communication to and from other agencies or services with local fire/ems. I've been listening multiple times listening to the mess described above wondering if anyone thought the new system through all the way.

listening to the local ems, fire, dispatchers and sheriff's dept, I feel they know what they are doing for the most part do the best they can with what they have.
 

w4rez

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mike_s104 said:
I'm not saying anything at all is wrong with the dispatchers, chopper attendants, or fire/ems personnel. what I'm basically saying is the multi-million dollar system should have built-in capabilities to allow EASY communication to and from other agencies or services with local fire/ems. I've been listening multiple times listening to the mess described above wondering if anyone thought the new system through all the way.

listening to the local ems, fire, dispatchers and sheriff's dept, I feel they know what they are doing for the most part do the best they can with what they have.
Has it gotten that bad? 12 years ago when I worked in EMS in Southern WV every ambulance I was ever aboard (from several different agencies) had either .400 and .340 *or* the med channels, and some were even lucky enough to have both. Logan, Mingo, and McDowell Counties have a lot of nasty MVAs and utilized HealthNet a lot back then, and it was well established that you contacted the helo on .340 or .400 and I don't ever recall hearing of or about any sort of comm snafu.

Then again, Region II always seemed to have more organized comms and better infrastructure than some of the other EMS regions in the state.
 

nickburns

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Mike,
The system itself is fine. Just because the medevac choppers arent on board doesnt make it a failure. 99% of the time, you'll find the helos talking to ground units on the med channels. You wont find most dispatch centers in this state patching med channels to ANY channel, as this is a big no no without conversing with medical command first. If the helos want interoperability on the system, then they need to buy the radios. It all comes down to training.....which obviously didnt happen in this case.
 

mike_s104

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nickburns said:
Mike,
The system itself is fine. Just because the medevac choppers arent on board doesnt make it a failure. 99% of the time, you'll find the helos talking to ground units on the med channels. You wont find most dispatch centers in this state patching med channels to ANY channel, as this is a big no no without conversing with medical command first. If the helos want interoperability on the system, then they need to buy the radios. It all comes down to training.....which obviously didnt happen in this case.

I have heard them patch Washington County MD to a TAC channel. I'm not saying that the entire system is a failure, just saying one would think it could patch other freqs as needed. Loudoun County VA patched to Jefferson County WV a lot. I never said anything about the choppers being the issue because they don't have the ability to communicate with the new system. it should not be up to them to have every known radio in the area on board. it should be up to the county or agency they are going to help to establish whatever communication necessary to conduct their task efficiently.

edit: if you think about it, it is a failure because the lack of apparent training is keeping the system from being used to it's highest potential. if they are not going to train the users correctly, then why even go to it?
 
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nickburns

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As much as a helo is used, which is not very often if you look at other calls that DONT require it, things like that will happen. The system is fine, will continue to be fine, and I dont particularly count not being able to talk to a helo having anything to do with the system. How they train up there, I dont know. We dont have any issues where I am with Healthnet.
 

mike_s104

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nickburns said:
As much as a helo is used, which is not very often if you look at other calls that DONT require it, things like that will happen. The system is fine, will continue to be fine, and I dont particularly count not being able to talk to a helo having anything to do with the system. How they train up there, I dont know. We dont have any issues where I am with Healthnet.
I don't work for the state or any other EMS agency all I can comment on is what I heard. you seem to be defending the new system, which is fine as it may be utilized better where you are and should probably be how it's used here. as I stated in my post yesterday, it was my opinion. yes, it does have to do with the radio system if the helicopter cannot communicate with the ground crews because they use the new system. like I said before, if they patched a particular freq (either static or dynamic) the fire/ems unit that needed to talk to the helicopter would just switch to that TG, talk to them and that would be it. no, they don't need to communicate with helicopter on every call but around here it's at least a few times a week. (anyone that lives in the area of Jefferson Co or Berkeley Co correct me if I am wrong) if the situation is bad enough to have a helicopter fly in from Fairfax, VA, then you should make sure your communications are in order. I just know it sounds very frustrating for all involved from listening to them. I know I would be very frustrated if I had to deal with this. again, all of this is my opinion.
 
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mike_s104

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w4rez said:
Has it gotten that bad? 12 years ago when I worked in EMS in Southern WV every ambulance I was ever aboard (from several different agencies) had either .400 and .340 *or* the med channels, and some were even lucky enough to have both. Logan, Mingo, and McDowell Counties have a lot of nasty MVAs and utilized HealthNet a lot back then, and it was well established that you contacted the helo on .340 or .400 and I don't ever recall hearing of or about any sort of comm snafu.

Then again, Region II always seemed to have more organized comms and better infrastructure than some of the other EMS regions in the state.
when I worked with a county ems agency in mid Virginia, the radios had all the med channels as well as the surrounding fire, PD and sheriff freqs with the correct PLs. we never had issues talking to any hospital, helicopter or other agency. from how they ran things when I was there, this would not happen there. after the first time, if there was a first time, it would be corrected very quickly. the local police officers that ran rescue had the rescue freqs add to their police radios just in case.

I think the new system was/is a big shock to all/most using it. I do think that Jefferson County won't have the same issues when they get their system installed. they seem a little more with it. I have even heard the dispatcher telling a deputy (or some other law enforcement) GPS coordinates. also heard the same unit tell the dispatcher that he would be away from his radio and read the GPS coordinates to the dispatcher in case someone needs him or if they have not heard from him later.
 
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nickburns

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Yes, I am defending the system as I have extensive knowledge of it. All I'm saying is dont say "why have the system" when you are basing your comments on incidents in one part of the state. Just my opinion.
 
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