"Because NYRA is very conscious of jockey and horse safety and knows every second counts when an accident does happen, we were presented with the challenge of putting a live video system into the ambulance that follows the horses during each race to give the safety crew inside a picture of what is taking place outside on the track," says Robert Mohan, Chief Engineer, TV operations for NYRA. "We currently use RF Central's 5.8 GHz CMT-II wireless camera system for production coverage and we felt confident that they could provide a solution for this unique application and I'm happy to say they didn’t disappoint us."
In order to create the live mobile video system, NYRA installed RF Central's 6.4 GHz CMT-II wireless camera system in the pan camera well in the center of the Grand Stand, which transmits live video to the 6.4 GHz PRX-II mobile receiver that is mounted to the passenger-side dashboard of the chase ambulance. Successful testing of the system took place during the winter meet at Aqueduct racetrack and the system was installed for full-time use on April 10. It was in use at this year’s Belmont Stakes and will used at the Travers Stakes at Saratoga in August.
"With the chase ambulance following a safe distance behind the horses, the potential for blind spots and obstructed views looking outside the window is a reality," adds Mohan. "It is important that the feed we provide to the paramedics and EMT's inside the ambulance is reliable and constantly changes to ensure they are seeing the action head on. That way, if there is an incident, the medics inside the vehicle can have the best view possible in order to assess the situation as early as possible in determining the best course of action to take. Time is critical in these situations and those extra seconds saved by RF Central's reliable system can prove to be life saving." With 17 cameras capturing the racing action around the track daily, the ambulance is never without a head-on view.
Not only are RF Central's PRX-II and CMT-II praised for their reliability, Mohan also enjoys their ease of use. "The paramedics in the ambulance have no problem using the PRX-II receiver," continues Mohan. "They literally reinstall it in the ambulance that they are using for that day, plug it into the cigarette lighter and turn it on. That’s all there is to it."
The PRX-II also offers the paramedics a big advantage during times of inclement weather or when the paramedics are dealing with poor track conditions. "When the ambulance is not able to follow the horses due to the muddy track conditions, the paramedics inside the stationary ambulance are still able to watch the race unfold on the PRX-II and know exactly what is going on and know exactly where they would have to go if there was an incident," says Mohan. "The system is even more valuable on the days when the paramedics aren't chasing and can't see anything that is going on as opposed to the days when the horses are 100 yards in front of them."
In addition to the 6.4 GHz RF Central equipment, NYRA also uses RF Central's 5.8 GHz CMT-II wireless camera system at its three tracks as well. "We use the 5.8 GHz system as an extra coverage camera either in the paddock where the horses are being saddled prior to the race or primarily at the loading gate" says Mohan. "During a typical race day, the starting gate moves depending on the length of the race and it's just not reasonable coverage for a hard camera. RF Central's 5.8 GHz CMT-II wireless camera system has turned out to be quite a valuable device to get us that coverage. We have been very happy with all of our RF Central products and look forward to working with them on future projects."