Air Medical Responders Flying High With New Communications Software

EMS operations depend upon reliable communications. The challenging environments of air medical responders further complicate these communications requirements, making first response scenarios more complex than those on the ground. Subscription-based transport providers like Air Evac Lifeteam and PHI Air Medical Group are under constant competitive pressure to interface with an ever-widening number of EMS, healthcare institutions and public safety organizations, all of which use different equipment and standards.
For these providers, upgrades to digital communications systems or worse, full system overhauls would be cost prohibitive with little ROI—while draining accounts intended for other investments such as helicopters. Expanding operations with the current configuration would actually lead to diseconomies of scale, with per-channel and per-seat costs rising with each addition and draining any return on investment. The transport companies needed a solution that would first address operability issues, then unify disparate communications environments without causing service interruptions, costly digital technology upgrades or maintenance and repair delays and charges. Software was their only option. And their research led them to Twisted Pair Solutions.
The company develops solutions for radio integration with an IP network. Its standards-based WAVE software unifies radios and other disparate technologies, quickly and cost-effectively integrating communications in ways expensive proprietary hardware can’t. By deploying WAVE, the air medical evacuation companies could now extend the range of their radio communications networks and allow full interoperability between different radio systems, giving dispatchers, pilots and third-party operators the ability to serve their customers faster and with even greater safety.
Phoenix-based PHI Air Medical Group’s deployment of WAVE, for example, was integral to its major radio network enhancement delivered by communications, engineering and integration specialists ARINC Inc. As with any air medical transport company, time is critical for PHI Air Medical for saving lives. The company needed to extend the range of its radio communications network to promote full interoperability between different radio systems, dispatcher professionals, operators and pilots.
Key elements of the PHI upgrade project include new digital command consoles and custom software at four communication centers. It also includes new digital network hardware at 53 new and existing air-ground radio sites to expand and enhance the network’s national radio coverage. WAVE was deployed in order to extend the reach of radio channels using an IP network, so that PHI pilot-staffed dispatchers and PHI flight crews can instantly and clearly communicate via any of the 53 radio towers on the nationwide network. In addition, all operations centers can now communicate easily with one another and—if the need arises— assume one another’s responsibilities for local radio or phone traffic.
As can be seen, leveraging software to overcome costly hardware upgrade and system overhaul needs can mean extending the range and scope of services for these companies, enabling them to make legitimate hardware investments in helicopters—keeping fleets strong and dependable.
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