Mile High system for injured Marine
On November 10, 2009, five and a half years after being felled by sniper fire in Fallujah on his second tour of duty, 26 year old Corporal Visnu Gonzalez will cut a ribbon and wheel into his new green, state of the art adapted home in Hillsdale, New Jersey. At the ceremony will be a representative from our local Mile High Automation based in Commerce City, which designed, supplied and helped install the home’s cutting edge adaptive technology. Rick Goyette of the non-profit Homes for Our Troops, who oversaw the 4 year long project and its army of volunteers, will hand Visnu the keys to his new home.
Gonzalez’ new home was designed to address his unique physical challenges and to help him regain a measure of independence. Paralyzed from the upper chest down, the Dominican-born Marine has use of his arms but only limited use of his hands. His body can no longer regulate its own temperature and Gonzalez is in constant danger of infection, necessitating both a continual supply of fresh air plus a carefully controlled thermostat.
Coordinating with Rick Goyette, Daniel Lowitz, Sales Manager of Mile High Automation, ensured that the air in the house which is completely replaced every two hours, is kept at a prescribed temperature. Lowtiz designed a system for Visnu that will allow him to control the home’s security system, lighting and thermostat by means of a portable 8" touch screen that can be hand held or attached to his wheelchair.
From this screen Gonzalez can run the sprinklers, close his garage, turn on his porch light and open the front door to let in a visitor; the screen also allows him to access his email or surf the web. In addition, Mile High placed motion sensing lights throughout the house to allow for hands free operation, switching on when Gonzalez enters a room and darkening after he leaves.
Other adaptations in the house include custom cabinetry and lowered countertops with wheelchair access, allowing Gonzalez to prepare his own meals and work at a desk. In his bedroom a lift will carry him from his bed to a specially equipped bathroom. Even with the home’s state of the art technology, Gonzalez will require the assistance of his mother, Maria Baez, who will be moving in with him. It was his mother’s refusal to give up on her son that finally brought Visnu’s case to the attention of Homes for Our Troops.
Not only is the home adaptive, it is arguably "the greenest home in New Jersey" thanks to a generous grant from the Sierra Club, earning it the highest platinum-level LEED certification. The house is completely powered by solar roof panels (including a solar-powered elevator), uses geothermal heating and cooling from two deep wells in the backyard, collects rainwater from the roof to water a drought-resistant garden, and uses energy efficient LED lighting.
As with many other suppliers on this project, Mile High Automation donated labor to help install its custom home automation system. "MHA is proud to partner with Homes for Our Troops in this worthwhile cause and we wish Visnu all the best in his new home," states Josh Ferguson, Mile High Automation president. "We’ll train Visnu how to operate the system from his touch screen and we’ll be here to answer any questions he has down the road and provide him a lifetime of tech support."
Of her son’s new home Gonzalez’s mother, Maria Baez states, "This is our second miracle. The first miracle was that he lived. The second is now he has a possibility of living well."