Vice President Mike Pence visited radio amateurs and emergency responders at the Puerto Rico Emergency Operations Center (PREOC) in San Juan’s Convention Center on the evening of October 6.
“He gave a very motivating speech, and our very own Gary Sessums, KC5QCN, shook his hand,” volunteer Valerie Hotzfeld, NV9L, reported. Pence visited Puerto Rico on Friday, promising government help in the recovery and offering a sympathetic ear to hurricane victims, media reports said.
ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey, KI1U, arrived at the EOC on Friday. “We gave him the grand tour,” Hotzfeld said.
She reported that the Puerto Rico volunteers had 16 Amateur Radio stations up and operational on Friday, servicing 14 hospitals and towns. “The American Red Cross used five of our radio operators — N3CKF, KI7CTF, K1MJM, W5RKB, and KC4FOX — to provide communication on Red Cross reunification teams,” she said in an October 6 update. The Amateur Radio operators on the island passed a substantial volume of health-and-welfare traffic, she added. Amateur Radio has continued to provide a link for the medical community on Puerto Rico.
“We placed an Amateur Radio operator at Centro Medico (Medical Central) to provide communications between them and other hospitals throughout the island,” Hotzfeld said. “This happened just in time, because the Menonita (Mennonite) Hospital in Caguas had both generators fail.”
She 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.
Amateur Radio volunteers also relayed requests from hospitals for fuel and water, and they provided communication for fire departments contacting the EOC. — Thanks to Valerie Hotzfeld, NV9L; ARRL Puerto Rico Section Manager Oscar Resto, KP4RF, and Gary Sessums, KC5QCN