The initiative to rebuild the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) in Puerto Rico — dormant for some 35 years — made further progress during a second reorganizational meeting on April 22 in Fajardo, led by Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, and Section Emergency Coordinator Juan Sepúlveda, KP3CR. Pitching in to help were more than 40 radio amateurs from all parts of the island who are interested in emergency communication. Also on hand at the meeting were radio amateurs who are members of the military and representatives of the Fajardo Emergency Management Agency.
The April 22 gathering followed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the ARRL Puerto Rico Section and the American Red Cross Puerto Rico Chapter on March 3, an initial ARES reorganizational meeting in Rio Piedras on March 11, and participation by Amateur Radio volunteers in the annual Caribe Wave tsunami communication exercise on March 21.
In a PowerPoint, Technical Coordinator Carlos Roig, WP4AOH, explained the ARES program and its history in Puerto Rico; the program has been largely inactive since the 1980s. Roig also spoke later in the meeting about the role of the National Traffic System (NTS) and delivered some Radiograms messages during Patriot Amateur Emergency Radio Club Net sessions to demonstrate how it’s done.
Resto explained to the gathering how the Puerto Rico Section has been coordinating volunteers during emergencies and about arrangements made with other Caribbean islands to use 7.188 MHz as well as other frequencies on 80 meters in case of a local emergency. He also pointed out those wanting to take part in ARES must be ARRL members.
Sepúlveda described how Puerto Rico is divided into districts and outlined the role of the District Emergency Coordinator (DEC) and Emergency Coordinator (EC) in each region. On display was a “Go Box” that included six radios, a power supply with distribution strip, and a small antenna to demonstrate the sort of equipment an ARES volunteer might want to have on hand in case of deployment during an emergency.
The new Puerto Rico Emergency Management Agency (PREMA) director of communications, Felix J. Garcia, visited the session briefly, and Resto and Sepúlveda took the opportunity share a draft memorandum of understanding for the agency to consider. Garcia said he was pleasantly surprised at the turnout for the ARES planning session and indicated that a room would be available for similar meetings in San Juan.
Following the meeting, Resto and Sepúlveda presented appointment certificates to new DECs and ECs. Attendees also joined ARRL or renewed memberships. A third meeting is set for July in Mayagüez. — Thanks to Ángel Luis Santana-Díaz, WP3GW, ARRL Puerto Rico Section PIC