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Red Cross Asks Puerto Rico Amateur Radio Volunteer Team Members to Stay Longer


The American Red Cross (ARC) has extended its invitation for the existing Amateur Radio volunteers in Puerto Rico to extend their stay. Members of the “Force of 50” deployed to Puerto Rico at the beginning of the month, and all are working there as ARC volunteers. ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, arrived in Puerto Rico last week to join the cadre of volunteers. Volunteer Val Hotzfeld, NV9L, said the team’s capabilities are becoming known.

She said FEMA aviation and ESF-8 (Health) wanted to confirm that a hospital on Vieques Island needed to have patients evacuated.

“With the help of Rob Landon, KE8AMC, we were able to determine if aviation needed to send an air rescue for dialysis patients to evacuate from Vieques,” she said. “We made their day. They were not aware of our presence and were impressed with our communications capabilities.” Thomas, who has been stationed at the hospital, heard from the hospital administrator that they needed to evacuate dialysis patients, who require air conditioning that the hospital is unable to provide.

The volunteers have been able to provide help to hospitals on several occasions, this week relaying a request for Culebra Hospital, which reported that a generator fire forced relocation to a nearby clinic. The hospital has requested a new generator. In addition, the team 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.

The volunteer team has been in contact with the US Army and the US Coast Guard contingents in Puerto Rico. “They are very interested in our operation,” Hotzfeld said. “Both branches spent a lot time here learning our system.”

FEMA meanwhile is reporting that showers and thunderstorms in both Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands through Wednesday could produce heavy rainfall, and flash flooding is expected.

FEMA reports that as of October 10, about 19% of cell telephone sites are operational, and 15% of customers have electrical power. FEMA is continuing to conduct a damage assessment and restoration plan. The agency said it has installed more than 50 generators and has nearly 200 on hand with another 365 en route to Puerto Rico.

Today will be the final day of Delta II activation for the International Salvation Army Team Emergency Radio Network (SATERN) SSB Net on 14.265 MHz. “The Net will have been activated for 22 days — 167 hours — for Hurricane Maria by the time it closes,” National SATERN Liaison Bill Feist, WB8BZH, told ARRL. That does not include all of the days and hours that it was activated for Hurricane Irma and the Solar Eclipse, and the Southern Territory Net activation for Hurricane Harvey — all within a 6-week period.”

Feist said net traffic has “dropped dramatically” in the past few days, and most messages are being handled intra-island on HF or VHF to San Juan, from where they can be delivered by telephone or e-mail. — 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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