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Ham Radio Volunteers in Puerto Rico

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Joined: 24/February/2007
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    Posted: 08/October/2017 at 14:28

Ham Radio Volunteers in Puerto Rico Install Repeater, Work with Hospitals and Reunification



The Amateur Radio volunteers on the ground in Puerto Rico continue to provide assistance in a number of areas. Amateur Radio resources have been reallocated around the island to better meet communications needs.

Volunteer Valerie Hotzfeld, NV9L, and a FEMA team member were tasked with calling 68 hospitals and medical facilities. They asked a series of 12 questions geared toward obtaining a better understanding of each facility’s communication capabilities, and to see if urgent care supplies and needs were being met.

Gary Sessums, KC5QCN, the Amateur Radio liaison to the ESF-2 Communications Task Force, coordinated the installation of a VHF Amateur Radio repeater on a mountain peak in El Yunque National Forest. The repeater now gives radio coverage to approximately 60% of Puerto Rico, and also extends radio coverage into the US Virgin Islands.

Andy Anderson, KEØAYJ, is stationed at the Guajataca Dam, providing communications support to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica) between their control facility and the dam as the water levels are lowered to prevent the dam from collapsing. 

Safe and Well data collection continues at Red Cross shelters, and in reunification work that involves going out into areas that have no communication. Hams are engaged in setting up equipment and entering data into the Red Cross Safe and Well website. Hams also facilitate survivors’ access to cell or satellite phones so they can call a loved one to let them know they are safe.

Reunification team officials have expressed that hams have become invaluable to the team, not only performing communications duties, but also having become proficient in multiple skill sets for the Red Cross. Ham radio volunteers are acting as navigators, reunification workers, and anything else that is needed. To date, they have completed 60 reunifications.

Donations to the response effort continue, with EPCOM (El Paso Communications Systems) donating 40 Icom IC-F3001 handheld radios, and the Yasme Foundation providing an Amateur Radio repeater that will be installed at the Arecibo Observatory to provide SAR communications.

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