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Hams Provide Welcome Communications to Hurricane-Ravaged Puerto Rico

Date: 2017-10-12
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Members of the Amateur Radio community have volunteered to assist in the ongoing recovery from Hurricane Maria, which devastated Puerto Rico and Dominica and, to a lesser extent, the U.S. Virgin Islands. Fifty of the most accomplished U.S. radio amateurs responded within 24 hours to a call from the American Red Cross (ARC) to deploy to Puerto Rico and provide emergency communications assistance there. At the ARC's request, the American Radio Relay League (ARRL) rallied the U.S. Amateur Radio community to provide up to 25 two-person teams of highly qualified hams. More than 350 answered the call from nearly every state.

The group's principal mission will be to move health-and-welfare information from the island back to the U.S. mainland, where that data will be entered in the Red Cross Safe and Well system. The Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) has been asked to assist these operators when they check in with tactical, health-and-welfare (H&W), and Safe and Well messages.

ARRL has equipped each team with an HF transceiver, software, a dipole antenna, a power supply, and all connecting cables, fitted in a rugged waterproof container. In an unprecedented and crucial move, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) agreed to help get the Ham Aid gear to Puerto Rico. The League also is sending two VHF repeaters, a dozen hand-held transceivers, five mobile radios, batteries, a number of small 2-kW portable generators, and solar-powered battery chargers. The hams and their equipment will be sent to Red Cross shelters extending from San Juan to the western end of the island.

ARRL's Emergency Preparedness Manager, Mike Corey, KI1U, and ARRL representative to NPSTC, said this was the first time in the nearly 75-year relationship between ARRL and the ARC that such a request for assistance had been made. "Hurricane Maria has devastated the island's communications infrastructure," Corey said. "Without electricity and telephone, and with most of the cell sites out of service, millions of Americans are cut off from communicating. Shelters are unable to reach local emergency services. And, people cannot check on the welfare of their loved ones. The situation is dire." 

To learn more visit www.arrl.org. View Mr. Corey's Weather Channel interview

- People, Places & Things/9-1-1magazine.com (from ARRL Newsletter, via NPSTC Daily News 10/9/17)

 

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