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About the Biocom Project

September, 2023

I’ve recently been working on a fun project. In 1985 I went to work for a company called Biocom, whose orange [paramedic] radio was made famous in the TV Show ‘Emergency’. The Biocom radio provided paramedic’s with communication to local hospitals, sending voice and ECG data for physician review and guidance. The Biocom radio in the TV Show (model 3502) is now in the Smithsonian. I joined the company following the design of their second-generation radio, the 3550.

Since the mid 1980’s my career has been almost exclusively dedicated to development of communication systems, and for the past fifteen years almost exclusively for public safety. Biocom having been my first public safety communication work experience holds a special place in my memory.

I was recently given the opportunity to restore a Biocom 3550, with intentions to donate it to the Los Angeles County Fire Museum. The subject radio originally belonged to the Santa Monica Fire Department and upon receipt it was non-functional. A work colleague, Kevin Nida who retired as a battalion chief from the Los Angeles City Fire and is now a member of the FirstNet Authority donated the radio. The original electro-mechanical engineer on the 3550 project, John Cardone had a full copy of the product and service manual, without which this restoration would not have been possible. After Biocom John spent his career at JPL working on every rover that successfully wandered on Mars. Tom Santogrossi was the electronic design engineer for this project. Afterwards, he went on to develop numerous other medical products including the cochlear implant.

It wasn’t until years later, maybe 2017 that I learned some colleagues also worked at Biocom, most notably Andy Seybold and Mel Samples. Andy & Mel worked for the previous owner on the first generation radio (3502), so we never met at Biocom. Andy was influential in the development of the 3502 radio, and Mel’s experience as a paramedic with the City of Los Angeles provided the bridge between end-user requirements and product development.

Restoration of the 3550 and a 3552 Battery Charger are now complete. Upon disassembly of the 3550, I found that I was the technician who originally put the unit into service. My writing and signature were on radio sub-assemblies. How crazy is that? Even crazier, I’ve been carrying around some new-old-stock parts for a 3550 since 1991. I’ve taken photos and videos throughout the process, and will fully document the restoration before it is delivered to the museum. Here are some of the photos and videos taken along the way.

Josh Lober