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Newbie - Help - Spectra A5 for Ambulance

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The_Don_NJ

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Hey guys, I need some help and I'll try to keep it short. My friend is trying to acquire 2 radios for his ambulance here in New Jersey. He's looking at Motorola Spectra A5 VHF 146-174 50W 128Ch
The problem is he wants to make sure this radio conforms to NJ's DOH minimum requirements.

Below 2 requirements he don't understand and I don't either. Can you please help and or tell me if the Spectra is sufficient for these:

1. A functional, dual-tone, multi-frequency encoder is required in either the driver's or the patient compartment.
2. All radios shall be capable of transmitting and receiving on the required frequencies with automatic Continuous Tone Coded Sub-audible Squelch (CTCSS) disable in carrier squelch mode.

We're completely lost on the second one...
Thank you in advance for your help.
 

mmckenna

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Hey guys, I need some help and I'll try to keep it short. My friend is trying to acquire 2 radios for his ambulance here in New Jersey. He's looking at Motorola Spectra A5 VHF 146-174 50W 128Ch
I know nothing about the State of New Jersey's DOH requirements, but I can tell you that as far as I know, A Motorola Spectra will not do 12.5KHz narrow band channels. Narrow band channels are required by the FCC, and has been since January 1, 2013. Operating a non-narrow band radio would put you afoul of the FCC rules. You won't be able to legally use it, or get a license if you file for a wide band emission. If you plan on operating under someone else's license, they won't like you using their system with a non-compliant radio. Also, it'll just sound like crap to all the other users.

The problem is he wants to make sure this radio conforms to NJ's DOH minimum requirements.

Below 2 requirements he don't understand and I don't either. Can you please help and or tell me if the Spectra is sufficient for these:

1. A functional, dual-tone, multi-frequency encoder is required in either the driver's or the patient compartment..
This is DTMF, like a telephone. It can be built into the microphone, or on the face of the radio. It can also be built in so that when you transmit, the DTMF code specific to your radio is sent out as a radio ID.

2. All radios shall be capable of transmitting and receiving on the required frequencies with automatic Continuous Tone Coded Sub-audible Squelch (CTCSS) disable in carrier squelch mode..
This is called "PL" tones. Probably every single VHF/UHF analog capable radio built since the 80's will have this standard. The Spectra has it.

We're completely lost on the second one...
Thank you in advance for your help.
For life safety use (ambulance) you really can't mess this up. Using a radio that isn't narrow band compliant would be a red flag. Also, and no offense intended, your questions suggest a level of understanding of radio systems that doesn't suggest you should be doing this without some experienced help. You -really- need to be looking at a different radio. You'll also need someone to properly program it, as well as help you either get properly licensed by the FCC, or do the proper memorandums of understanding (MOU's) with whoever's system you plan on using. This is the sort of stuff where finding a good radio shop can be very valuable. Trying to do this by asking questions on the internet at a site for hobbyists, or purchasing used radios isn't really a good idea for someone operating an ambulance service.
 

KC4YIN

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For what it's worth the Motorola Waris line / CDM 1250 and 1550 radios come close to what you are looking for.
As was stated before above, mmckenna has given you excellent advice. The DTMF function is simply a telephone keypad such as shown in the picture on the mic. they also do all the PL tone functions as well and they are narrow band compliant. These radios can be mounted under a dash directly or remote mounted with just the control head in the driver's or passenger's reach. I Iike these radios as they are simple to operate and very flexible for their cost. I use a pair of these, one VHF and one UHF for both Ham and VFD as I can program both wide and narrow band frequencies in the appropriate applications. This is just one choice of many. Your mileage may vary.
 

The_Don_NJ

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Thank you for the detailed and quick feedback. Sincerely appreciate and also agree on you suggestion that this job is best left to experts. We'll try a local Radio but they tend to be expensive.
Online they offer to program the channels prior to buying a radio - the cables are ready in the ambulance so we figured it's a matter of simply connecting the cables and done.
It's important to mention that he is going to operate a BLS/transport ambulance, no Emergency/911, and these are the NJ DOH requirements for this service - I think they're very basic:

8:40-6.13 Two-way communications
(a) Each BLS ambulance shall be equipped with communications equipment, including at least one mobile radio, with the following minimum features:
1. Two-way, VHF high-band with Effective Radiated Power (ERP) as approved by the FCC;
2. Selection, transmission and receipt on each of the required JEMS radio frequencies from the driver's compartment;
3. Transmission and receipt of each of the required JEMS radio frequencies from the patient compartment. While only one radio is required, there shall be a microphone and speaker in both the driver and the patient compartments; and
4. A functional, dual-tone, multi-frequency encoder in either the driver's or the patient compartment.

(c) All radios shall be capable of transmitting and receiving on the following JEMS frequencies with automatic Continuous Tone Coded Sub-audible Squelch (CTCSS) disable in carrier squelch mode:
1. 155.340 MHz (JEMS 2 frequency/BLS ambulance-to-Emergency Department);
2. 155.280 MHz (JEMS 3 frequency/Statewide EMS coordination); and
3. 153.785 MHz (JEMS 4 or SPEN 4 frequency/Statewide public safety coordination for police, fire and EMS).

Btw now we're looking at (TYT TH-9000D 60W 2 Meter VHF) or the (75 Watt Yaesu FT-2900R). I think these 2 comply with the above requirements.
 

KC4YIN

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Btw now we're looking at (TYT TH-9000D 60W 2 Meter VHF) or the (75 Watt Yaesu FT-2900R). I think these 2 comply with the above requirements.[/QUOTE]

Sorry. These radios are for ham/amateur radio use ONLY and are not "type accepted" by the FCC for public safety use.
 

sfd119

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Thank you for the detailed and quick feedback. Sincerely appreciate and also agree on you suggestion that this job is best left to experts. We'll try a local Radio but they tend to be expensive.
You're right, they are...but they'll make sure you have the right, warrantied item. Getting your radio from eBay all programmed up is not the right way to go on this.
 

The_Don_NJ

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I guess I can't save here :( .. I'll take your advice and go with the radio shop. thank you guys.
The shop said they'd install VX 2200's on it.
 

KC4YIN

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Also the Kenwood TK series radios will work in your application. TK 790 for instance is a VHF radio.
 

mmckenna

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Thank you for the detailed and quick feedback. Sincerely appreciate and also agree on you suggestion that this job is best left to experts. We'll try a local Radio but they tend to be expensive.
Correct. Doing the job right won't be cheap or necessarily easy. It's important, though, that it be done correctly and legally.

Online they offer to program the channels prior to buying a radio
Any reputable radio shop will program the radio for you if you buy from them.


- the cables are ready in the ambulance so we figured it's a matter of simply connecting the cables and done.
It would be, -if- it was still legal to use that particular radio. Reusing the old cables is probably not going to be possible, so best to take that off the table right now. If you are looking for a dual control head radio (one for the driver, one in the back), take a look at the Kenwood radios. Kenwood, as well as a few other companies, make suitable radios.

It's important to mention that he is going to operate a BLS/transport ambulance, no Emergency/911, and these are the NJ DOH requirements for this service - I think they're very basic:
It's important to point out that the FCC laws trump the NJ state laws. Because the DOH requirements don't go into technical details that are covered by the FCC, it doesn't mean they can be ignored. It doesn't matter if he's running ALS, BLS or just driving people around in wheel chairs, the FCC rules still apply to what you are doing. IF you start transmitting on the frequencies you listed with a wide band radio, everyone is going to know. Your audio will sound crappy, maybe even unintelligible. You'll be known as "that guy" with the crappy radio. Whoever runs these radio systems will quickly be able to tell that you are running a radio that doesn't meet the specs. Since you'll likely be operating under someone else's license, they'll probably shut you down since you are putting their license at risk.

8:40-6.13 Two-way communications
(a) Each BLS ambulance shall be equipped with communications equipment, including at least one mobile radio, with the following minimum features:
1. Two-way, VHF high-band with Effective Radiated Power (ERP) as approved by the FCC;
2. Selection, transmission and receipt on each of the required JEMS radio frequencies from the driver's compartment;
3. Transmission and receipt of each of the required JEMS radio frequencies from the patient compartment. While only one radio is required, there shall be a microphone and speaker in both the driver and the patient compartments; and
4. A functional, dual-tone, multi-frequency encoder in either the driver's or the patient compartment.

(c) All radios shall be capable of transmitting and receiving on the following JEMS frequencies with automatic Continuous Tone Coded Sub-audible Squelch (CTCSS) disable in carrier squelch mode:
1. 155.340 MHz (JEMS 2 frequency/BLS ambulance-to-Emergency Department);
2. 155.280 MHz (JEMS 3 frequency/Statewide EMS coordination); and
3. 153.785 MHz (JEMS 4 or SPEN 4 frequency/Statewide public safety coordination for police, fire and EMS).
None of these requirements are difficult. Any basic VHF radio will do this. You can either have two radios, one for the driver and one for the rear, or a single radio with dual head configuration.

Btw now we're looking at (TYT TH-9000D 60W 2 Meter VHF) or the (75 Watt Yaesu FT-2900R). I think these 2 comply with the above requirements.
No. The Yaesu brand is amateur radio equipment designed for hobbyist use on the amateur radio bands. The radio does not have the proper FCC type certifications for what you are trying to do. Out of the box it will not transmit on the frequencies you need. While there are those who will sell hacked versions of them, they do not meet the narrow banding requirements.
The TYT -might- meet the requirements, but it's a very low end radio that won't stand up to daily use in a public safety environment.

ALS or BLS, you still need the right radio. Trying to cut corners on this equipment isn't the way to do it. Trying to purchase amateur radio gear to save a few bucks is legally problematic. Buying the cheapest Chinese made radio you can will lead to disappointments, or even failure.

ALS or BLS, you need the proper radio for the job. We get it, money is tight and your buddy wants to do this on the cheap. Surfing e-bay looking for a radio isn't going to work out well with your apparent level of experience. You really need more help than you are going to get off a hobbyist website.

A good suggestion was made above:
Motorola CDM750 or Motorola CDM1250 VHF will do exactly what you need. They are available used and will meet all the current requirements with the FCC and the State of New Jersey DOH. They'll need to be programmed by someone with the correct software and cable, but this isn't expensive.
I've been purchasing used CDM750's for around $100. Get two of them, one for the driver, one for the attendant, and you'll be good to go.

You need to stay away from the amateur radio gear, it is not appropriate or legal for what you are trying to do. You should also avoid the low end Chinese stuff. They have a poor track record, and shouldn't be relied upon for the type of service you want to offer. It isn't hard to get the right stuff, and it will save you a lot of money and headaches if you do it right the first time. Using non-compliant radios isn't OK. You likely will get busted by someone, the FCC, the state, or whoever's license you plan on using. The fines are in the thousands of dollars.

Really, listen to the advice that we've given you. It's important.
 

mmckenna

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Here ya' go:
Motorola CDM750 VHF 4 Channels 45 Watts 136 174 MHz | eBay

$175 each. The guy will do programming. It'll do everything you need. You -might- need to add a DTMF microphone, depending on what the DOH is expecting you to do with it:
AARMN4026B Motorola DTMF Microphone Mobile Radio CDM1250 CDM1550 Free SHIP | eBay

This radio will meet the current FCC requirements and will be legal to use. It will also meet the DOH requirments. Easiest way to do this is to purchase one for the driver and one for the rear attendant. You'll need two antennas on the roof, not a big deal.
 

The_Don_NJ

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mmckenna - you are DA MAN! and excuse my late and un-ordered replies, they're due to me being a newbie and a moderator needs to review them.
I honestly didn't realize those were amateur ones - and I totally agree, I would not wan to do something that would cause trouble to my friend's business or be against the law - no way. it won't pay in the long run. And I do agree about the cheap Chinese stuff, I've paid my price for buying cheap Chinese stuff in the past lol
so, thank you so much for your advice - I am accepting the advice from you all - we will not go at this alone, I'll make sure to consult a radio shop or have them do the whole work. maybe we'll just buy the radios and ask them if they can program for us. I'm just grateful to find people who would steer me the right way
 

sfd119

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Easiest way to do this is to purchase one for the driver and one for the rear attendant. You'll need two antennas on the roof, not a big deal.
No. You don't want to do this. When the rear is transmitting for a patient report it will do nothing but squeal up front and vice versa. This is not a good practice.

If OP is starting up an Ambo service and can't afford to do something simple like a radio from a shop, that's not a good sign.
 

mmckenna

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If they are on the same channel, certainly. That's just feedback.
Also, proper antenna separation.

I agree, none of this is a good sign. I think it's great that they are researching this, but it's really going sideways. I'd be troubled by anyone wanting to run an ambulance service, of any type, that won't make the effort to get professional help and purchase proper radio equipment. Cutting corners on the equipment is a bad sign. If they'll go with a cheap, off the shelf Chinese radio to save a few bucks, it makes me wonder if they'll be purchasing used off brand defibrillators/AED's, etc.

OP, really, really, you need to get some local professional help involved in this. Cutting corners and using equipment that isn't type accepted for the service you are trying to use is a serious red flag. Also, you don't seem to be considering FCC licensing. Again, serious red flag.
 

radioman2001

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Why not done all the time, chances are they won't be on the same channel anyway. The front will be on Dispatch the back on HEAR channels. That's how we have done it for over 30 years.

The days of real PROFESSIONAL radio personel are gone, everybody thinks 2-way is a consumer product like a cell phone. There is only one reason you can't do it yourself and that's the requirement by the FCC that the radio be checked ( Right frequency, and on frequency correct transmit deviation and power out and reflected) by a FCC licensed technician BEFORE using. That doesn't mean the customer can't purchase have programmed and install the radio themselves ,but it does have to be tested by a FCC tech prior to use, even though nobody does anymore.
 
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The_Don_NJ

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Radioman2001 - you're absolutely right, you need this done by an FCC licensed person, as you have to show this to the state upon inspection. But for the transport ambulances these radios are there just because the state requires them - we as EMT's never use them. we're never involved in providing emergency service. anyhow, like the guys said above there's no going around this, gotta bite the bullet
 

com501

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The reality about all this fluff about FCC certification, licensing, and having real radios and a licensed shop do the installs and checking the equipment is really quite simple.

It boils down to liability.

The State Department of Health in each state regulates ambulances. Granted, you say you never transport ALS, you never run code, you don't do emergencies. Guess what? You are operating an ambulance, transporting patients.

At some point, you might be the last ambulance of 200 at that huge MCI (think 9/11, NYC) and now the SHTF and you NEED that radio, and by God, here you are, pressed into ALS service with two firefighter paramedics in the back and four patients hanging from stretcher straps screaming down the byway.

Aren't you glad you did it the right way??
 

sfd119

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Why not done all the time, chances are they won't be on the same channel anyway. The front will be on Dispatch the back on HEAR channels. That's how we have done it for over 30 years.

The days of real PROFESSIONAL radio personel are gone, everybody thinks 2-way is a consumer product like a cell phone. There is only one reason you can't do it yourself and that's the requirement by the FCC that the radio be checked ( Right frequency, and on frequency correct transmit deviation and power out and reflected) by a FCC licensed technician BEFORE using. That doesn't mean the customer can't purchase have programmed and install the radio themselves ,but it does have to be tested by a FCC tech prior to use, even though nobody does anymore.
Professional radio service by putting two separate radios in the rig, for the same purpose? I don't think that's good advice at all. Buck up and get a dual head radio.
 

The_Don_NJ

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hey guys, I hired a shop to do this, everyone goes there aparently. But I have a question for my own knowledge as in EMT school they taught us "zero" about using the two-way communication.
So the radio will have 4 channels - we call them JEMS here in Jersey. What does this mean for the channes?

JEMS radios must have automatic CTCSS disabled on JEMS 2, 3, & 4. In
this fashion, EMS vehicles communicate with their primary dispatch center
via CTCSS signaling (on JEMS 1). Communications with other stations are
conducted via carrier squelch on JEMS 2, 3 & 4. CTCSS tones are
assigned on a county basis. This listing of assigned CTCSS tones appears
on Table 3.

Does this mean that for JEMS 2, 3 & 4 I'm only listening in? What does the "disabling" mean?
And JEMS 1 is for dispatch communication. This is how they explain the JEMS:

JEMS 1 – Local Dispatch Primary channel used to communicate to local Dispatch center, regardless of frequency band.
JEMS 2 – 155.340 MHz CSQ Ambulance to hospital ER
JEMS 3 – 155.280 MHz CSQ Statewide EMS Coordination
JEMS 4 – 153.785 MHz 131.8 TX only Same as SPEN 4, Statewide mobile public safety coordination
 
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