May 27, 2020
San Bernardino County uses Aviat Eclipse radios to establish communications for the Victorville Fairgrounds Field Hospital quickly
Aviat Networks and the San Bernardino County Information Services Department teamed up in early April to provide critical communications in support of a new field hospital at the San Bernardino Fairgrounds. The hospital will provide relief for any medical facility overflow that occurs in the county during the COVID-19 pandemic. The fairgrounds are in Victorville, alongside Interstate 15 in southeastern California and around forty miles from the county seat of San Bernardino. The new hop will link staff and bedside healthcare providers at the fairgrounds Convention Hall to the people, data, and resources needed to treat patients and save lives.
Communications will include critical care processes, such as remote diagnosis and drug requests, and administrative processes, such as facility logistics, ordering food, patient-family connection, and many other needs. The fairgrounds have served as the central crisis center for the rural area of Victorville in the past, and until the new link was installed, the fairgrounds did not have the hi-speed connection required for this situation, or any other future emergency.
Aside from the obvious value of the project for county residents, what’s remarkable is how fast it happened.
Late in the day on April 14, Division Chief of the Information Services Department’s Public Safety Communications Division, Timothy Trager, was notified of the urgent need for a microwave link to support the new hospital. Over the next few days, several roadblocks came up to potentially slow down the project. Obstacles included the need to speed equipment to the site; issues in getting the antenna tower up rapidly; ensuring a direct transmission path into the network; a grounding issue; an upgrade on the radio license; and on-the-fly team coordination. The fact that the site was not a planned installation with a pre-determined process made project management more challenging.
“The thing is, Aviat is big enough to provide the equipment that we needed but nimble enough to do it all quickly,”
Division Chief, Information Services
Public Safety Communications Division
Tim reached out to Scott Dube, Project Engineer at Aviat, that day, and despite the known challenges ahead, the Aviat and San Bernardino team was able to perform the site survey the next day. Installation began on April 16, and final testing was completed by the morning of Saturday, April 18. The site was inaugurated the following Monday.
“The thing is, Aviat is big enough to provide the equipment that we needed but nimble enough to do it all quickly,” said Tim Trager. “Any future usage at the site, such as communication to a hospital or public health department, will have a large connectivity requirement, and Aviat’s equipment can support it.”
The link uses Aviat Eclipse radios at both ends of the link—at the fairgrounds and a large tower on Quartzite Mountain, 15 miles away. It operates in the 11 GHz frequency range, with a capacity of 200 Mbps. The site includes a permanent tower, antenna, and power connection and the cabinet housing the radios, routers, and other equipment.
The project has shown what can happen when advanced technologies are used, and project management teams are motivated to serve a critical public need in uncertain times. It is now considered a permanent installation, and the county will use the link for future communications needs other than the field hospital, such as sheltering and coordination in wildfire scenarios.
Photos during the installation of the link