Vice President Visits 'Force Of 50,' RC Invites Volunteers to Extend Stay:
The ARRL Letter
October 12, 2017
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Vice President Visits 'Force Of 50,' Red Cross Invites Volunteers to Extend Stay:
Vice President Mike Pence visited "Force of 50" volunteers and
emergency responders at the Puerto Rico Emergency Operations Center
(PREOC) in San Juan's Convention Center on October 6. "He gave a very
motivating speech, and our very own Gary Sessums, KC5QCN, shook his
hand," volunteer Valerie Hotzfeld, NV9L, reported.
The American Red Cross (ARC) this week invited the Amateur Radio
volunteers now in Puerto Rico to extend their duty tours. Members of
the "Force of 50" deployed to Puerto Rico at the start of the month,
all as ARC volunteers. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey,
KI1U, joined the cadre of volunteers last week and hit the ground
running. Nearly 2 dozen ARRL volunteers from the mainland and numerous
local radio amateurs have been working in concert over the past couple
of weeks, doing what needs to be done to help Puerto Rico to recover
from hurricane devastation.
Puerto Rico Section Emergency Coordinator Juan Sepulveda, KP3CR, is
better prepared to assist, now that volunteers have delivered a radio
and antenna to him in Lares. "This now gives us a local ham covering
the Lares Medical Center and the hospital, so our ARRL American Red
Cross Amateur Radio operator can cover the Casteņel hospital nearby,"
ARC volunteer Valerie Hotzfeld, NV9L, noted in a team update. Sepulveda
has been coordinating the ARES efforts on the west side of the island
since the recovery began.
Vice President Mike Pence greets Gary Sessums, KC5QCN.
Amateur Radio has continued to provide a link for the medical
community in Puerto Rico. Volunteers have deployed to hospitals,
including remote hospitals that are without communication.
This week, the team relayed a request for Culebra Hospital, which
reported that a generator fire had forced relocation to a nearby
clinic. In addition, volunteers relayed a request from Culebra Hospital
that it needs temporary housing from FEMA for necessary staff members
who lost their homes in the hurricane. The team also relayed a message
for Hima San Pablo Hospital in Fajardo, which needed specialized IV
fluids for a 4-day-old infant.
Rob Landon, KE8AMC, stationed at the hospital on Vieques, learned from
the hospital administrator that they needed to evacuate dialysis
patients, who require air conditioning that the hospital is unable to
provide. "We made their day," said Hotzfeld. "They were not aware of
our presence and were impressed with our communications capabilities."
An Amateur Radio operator has been assigned at Centro Medico
(Medical Central) to provide communication between the center and other
hospitals. "This happened just in time, because the Menonita
(Mennonite) Hospital in Caguas had both generators fail," Hotzfeld
said. The emergency room doctor at Medical Central and the ham embedded
there, Juan Trujillo, N0PSF, coordinated with Dennis Perez, WP4Q, at
the Mennonite Hospital in Caguas to transfer four critical patients to
the Mennonite Hospital in Cayey.
Volunteers at the EOC relayed a request from Guayana Hospital for
snacks, water, and a generator. Their second generator was reported to
be about to fail. They also relayed requests from hospitals for fuel
and water, and they provided communication for fire departments
contacting the EOC.
A helicopter drops a huge concrete barrier into a breach at Guajataca
A dozen or so volunteers continue to handle traffic and relays from
the EOC. The Red Cross deployed five radio operators to provide
communication for its reunification teams. Safe and Well data
collection continues at Red Cross shelters, and reunification work
involves going out into areas that have no communication. The Amateur
Radio operators on the island also passed a substantial volume of
Efforts continue toward resurrecting the devastated electrical power
infrastructure in Puerto Rico, and 40 to 50 Puerto Rican radio amateurs
have been assisting the power authority to maintain communication as it
works to restore power.
Hotzfeld; Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF; Corey, and
Amateur Radio liaison to the FEMA ESF-2 Communications Task Force Gary
Sessums, KC5QCN, traveled to Arecibo, Lares, and the Guajataca Dam to
deliver bottled water as well as spare VHF radios to permit direct
communication between Isabela and the dam, where infrastructure repairs
are under way. A repeater has been delivered to Arecibo Observatory.
Several team members stocked up on powdered milk, peanut butter, water,
rice, canned fruits and vegetables, and bags of fresh apples, and
delivered these to people in the Arecibo area.
The fire station in Guayama reported a complete lack of water, with
people being turned away. One of the Amateur Radio volunteers was able
to assist from the fire station in Juncos.
Volunteer Joe Bassett, W1WCN, worked via relay with local operator Al
Medina-Ramirez, NP3MR, to reestablish contact with an Army task force
on Vieques Island. Army MARS operators were unable to get in touch with
the task force dispatched to assist the island's hospital.
Medina-Ramirez responded to a call from W1WCN to travel to the hospital
and contact the task force, which was found safe and well and awaiting
transport via helicopter, which had been delayed due to the weather.
Amateur Radio operators at the EOC assisted Samaritan's Purse in
providing a generator to power a repeater near Jayuya. Contact was
provided to have local radio amateur WP4PNS meet Samaritan's Purse
personnel to exchange the generator.
FEMA has reported that only about 19% of cell telephone sites are
operational, and 15% of customers have electrical power. The Salvation
Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN
down on October 11. -- Thanks to ARRL Puerto Rico SM Oscar Resto,
KP4RF; Valerie Hotzfeld, NV9L; ESF-2 Amateur Radio Liaison Gary
Sessums, KC5QCN, and National SATERN Liaison Bill Feist, WB8BZH
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