Ham Radio Volunteers In Puerto Rico Meet a Variety of Communication Needs:
The ARRL Letter
October 5, 2017
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Amateur Radio Volunteers In Puerto Rico Meet a Variety of Communication Needs:
The Amateur Radio volunteers who deployed as American Red Cross
volunteers to Puerto Rico as part of the "Force of 50" this past
weekend have been focusing their efforts where their help is most
needed. ARRL CEO Tom Gallagher, NY2RF, said the volunteers, in general,
will provide communications for local law enforcement and utility
managers, island-to-mainland health-and-welfare traffic, and contact
with the island's more remote areas.
ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, said arriving
volunteers initially gathered at the Convention Center in San Juan,
which is now serving as Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA)
Headquarters. Their first night, a local church offered accommodations,
he said, and volunteers slept on pews that had been pushed together.
Since the storm struck Puerto Rico on September 20, ARRL Section
Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, and other volunteers have staffed VHF and
HF nets at the American Red Cross temporary headquarters in San Juan,
despite damage to their own homes. The 24/7 net covers nearly
two-thirds of the island and has been handling traffic to and from the
power company, Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica (Electric Power Authority
-- AEE), and state and local authorities. The electric distribution
infrastructure suffered extreme storm damage, and only about 9% of
customers have power. Twelve team members were assigned to provide
communication for engineers involved in repairing power distribution
An Amateur Radio station has been installed and an operator embedded at
the Puerto Rico Emergency Operations Center (PREOC). Radio amateurs
also were asked to establish VHF communication capabilities at 51
hospitals throughout the island, so they can have direct contact with
ARRL Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF (right), works with
two new "Force of 50" volunteers at Red Cross Headquarters in San Juan.
Volunteer Val Hotzfeld, NV9L, told ARRL in an October 4 update that
the team on the ground has recruited three local hams to handle Amateur
Radio communications at hospitals in Jayuya, Humacau, and Caguas. "They
were on site and began handling hospital traffic today," she said in
her October 4 situation report. "We successfully received and forwarded
traffic from three hospitals needing water and fuel."
"My station will be QRT for a long time," said Alfredo (Al) Velez
Puerto Rico volunteers and local hams alike have successfully passed
"lots of traffic" to net control, which has been forwarded on to the
appropriate agencies. Some examples included getting an oxygen tank to
a nursing home resident and insulin to a diabetic youth.
A local radio amateur was recruited to handle hospital communications
at Centro Medico. "This is the main hospital on the island and needs
communication to handle transfers from the other hospitals and medical
centers," she said. The Puerto Rico team has begun checking with
hospitals to see which ones have telephone service, before dispatching
Hotzfeld said they've received a request from AEE, which operates the
precarious Guajataca hydroelectric dam, to deploy another operator to
the dam and assist those fixing the channel that delivers water to
about 350,000 in the Quebradilla and Isabella area. "We are now also
being tasked with doing the same for all the police departments in
Puerto Rico," she added. "We are gathering information on roads that
are open from the EOC and providing it to the Red Cross for their
The Amateur Radio liaison at the EOC is working with federal officials
to co-locate Amateur Radio repeaters on tower sites now being restored
to improve communication island-wide. The volunteer team was approached
by the Southern Baptist disaster team to discuss the possibility of
utilizing a few of their team members who hams to help with
Volunteers Jeremy Dougherty, NS0S, and Bobby Price, KB4ROR, are in
Yauco. "We installed our rigs in the fire truck and gave them our
handhelds. It left us no other radio for local contact," the pair
reported on October 3. They reached out to Marcos Pereda, KP3CA, in
Yauco, who loaned the team his FTM-100DR.
They didn't have an antenna that would offer sufficient range, so they
improvised, fashioning a "tape measure" five-element Yagi, using
supplies from a local hardware store and a coax jumper from their extra
HF radio. "We installed everything and made contact with N5TGL and
N0CSM, who are 50 miles away, [using] the repeater between us," they
There have been problems filling resource requests from remote areas
of the island. A message was relayed on WinLink by Juan Sepulveda,
KP3CR, from volunteer team members in Mayagüez on behalf of Lares Mayor
Roberto Pagán, who had put out an urgent call for water for the town of
According to one FEMA official, the White House situation room is
extremely pleased and enthusiastic about the service Amateur Radio
volunteers are providing in Puerto Rico.
An HF station with Winlink capability and a VHF/UHF station have been
set up in the FEMA disaster field office, and volunteers have been
reporting in by radio from around the island to post situation reports.
Four volunteers were positioned to accompany and provide VHF
communication at Red Cross distribution centers on a daily basis. Two
volunteers also were sent to Culebra Island to establish VHF and HF
communication there, the first since the storm.
The ARRL Letter
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Ham Radio Volunteers In Puerto Rico Meet a Variety of Commun
by KP4IA on June 19, 2018
Mail this to a friend!
Attention Mr Mike Corey:
I will never forget and I want to thank each of the Red Cross volunteers as well as local volunteers for the support that provided to the citizens of Puerto Rico after hurricane Maria.
I dont want anyone to be forgotten by the efforts including the local radioamateurs (PR) that also helped and provided support in hospitals, police, etc helping and giving vital assistance in the communications infrastructure of the PR water & electric and other agencies. Also radioamateurs from the Dominican Republic assisting handling traffic on HF, and forwarding message from and mainland USA.
The devastation caused by the hurricane Maria was HUGE.
You and the Section Manager identified the KP4IA repeater system working and fully operational 24/7 after the hurricane Maria.
The machine identifies in CW and voice, but how easy for you and for Mr. Oscar Resto - KP4RF to forget and not to mention, not giving any credit / recognition of the KP4IA repeater system located in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico.
It was nice and easy to dropp the anchor there in the 145.370 MHz. (-600) right ?
The communications post of K1M located in Telemundo Channel 2 facilities located in Roosevelt Ave in San Juan, PR, the radio operators of the Red Cross there including the Red Cross runners in the field, the force of 50, operating constantly in a daily basis handling traffic thru the KP4IA repeater.
We are in hurricane season, it begins in June 1rst until November 30 every year. We hope never happen a hurricane scenario like the hurricane Maria again.
Any help in emergency is welcome, the problem strives in individuals that gets recognition from the efforts of others. I believe in teamwork, we hope you get the message clear.
Thank you !
Antonio R Santiago, Tony-KP4IA
Owner/Trustee KP4IA repeater system.
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