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Communications United States

Red Cross Asks For 50 Ham Radio Operators To Fly To Puerto Rico ( 121

Bruce Perens writes: The red cross has asked for 50 ham radio operators to fly to Puerto Rico and be deployed there for up to three weeks. This is unprecedented in the 75-year cooperation between Red Cross and ARRL, the national organization of ham radio operators for the U.S. The operators will relay health-and-welfare messages and provide communications links where those are missing and are essential to rescue and recovery. With much infrastructure destroyed, short-wave radio is a critical means of communicating from Puerto Rico to the Mainland at this time.
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Red Cross Asks For 50 Ham Radio Operators To Fly To Puerto Rico

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @06:07AM (#55264903)

    When I said ham radio was still important because cell phones don't work in disasters where infrastructure is no longer in place. Been a ham since college in 1999.

    • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

      The only catch I see here is - don't other parts of that area also need support?

      • The only catch I see here is - don't other parts of that area also need support?

        Communications is rather vital to coordinate and execute many other critical projects related to health, infrastructure, etc.

      • What? We canâ(TM)t help Puerto Rico because we arenâ(TM)t also addressing every other impacted region simultaneously?

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by rtb61 ( 674572 )

          Obviously the US military is way too small to send radio operators with their equipment to help Americans living in Puerto Rico (they are citizens), perhaps you need to double the US military budget to 1.5 trillion or there about to be about to do it. The US has become an idiotic parody of itself, disaster capitalism, as for as the corporations are concerned, Puerto Rico must totally collapse so they can buy cents on the dollar, fix it and flip it, for billions in profit, to be wiped out by another global w

          • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Wednesday September 27, 2017 @09:16PM (#55267055) Homepage

            Or, perhaps, there is more to social support than the military. Like FEMA, like the Red Cross, like hundreds of other organizations. Like amateur radio.

            The US military is sending assistance and they can do things that nobody else can do (the Navy hospital ship, for instance). There is no earthly reason that the military HAS to be the only group working a disaster.

    • When I said ham radio was still important

      That's not what you said. What you said was: "Trump says, "Wait, their all black & spanish? And that's the end of that."

      Maybe if you had an account and put a name to what you said you could provide some citation that "Nobody believed you" because quite frankly your view has a lot of support on Slashdot.

    • by msauve ( 701917 )
      You're also Anonymous Coward, the guy who posts goatse links and hurls racial epithets.
    • I was interested in Ham Radio back in the US in the 70's. Unfortunately, back then, I don't know how it is now, in order to even get started, you needed to be able to type Morse, which, for some folks is a kinda sorta no go from a physical challenges standpoint.

      I took it as more as a social snub: if your have enough money to spend on equipment, you will get your license, otherwise, you don't belong in our exclusive golf club. Not surprisingly . . . a lot of doctors in my town had Ham licenses . . . but t

    • But satellite phones do, and cell companies have options available for pop-up cell towers that use microwave beam, mesh radio or satellite backhaul and can be quickly deployed.

      The call for ham operators in Puerto Rico is an exception - that's why it's newsworthy. Twenty years ago this would have been done for everywhere the hurricane hit.

      • I'm certainly not opposed to the idea of using ham operators; it's a proven technique; but what I found most surprising about the ARC calling for some is that it is happening in a context where satellite phones are (relatively) cheap; and work reasonably well; and the American Red Cross has had some rather disturbing reports out of the last few disasters of general incompetence and a more specific inability to turn their impressive fundraising capabilities into actually delivering what is needed where it is
        • The background check thing was the usual bureaucratic 'Oh it's easy, everybody does it' running into an old boys club with a long history and a lot of pride. It wasn't handled well on either side.

          What coordinated amateur radio groups offer that is different from a cell phone is a functional network with a command structure that is capable of working with large and disparate groups of people (Red Cross, local PD, military.) Just a bunch of people on individual cell phones is going to create a large spaghet

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @06:59AM (#55265131)

    Hi from Adam KB2JPD FDNY*EMS

    Contacted the ARRL right away. I am a first responder from 9/11, EMT for 25 years, 23 years with FDNY, am Spanish speaking, and am a General class amatuer radio operator.
    Please have us in your thoughts and prayers so we can make several miarcles there in Puerto Rico. Those wanting more video and info from the island can look for my friend Nomar Vizcarrondo works for Univision, is a ham, and is getting internet video and news out of Puerto Rico. Much of the audio is in Spanish but the video is self-explanatory.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Best luck to you KB2JPD. Hope you can do some good while you're there!

      Don't forget to stand up and stretch one in a while if you're going to be sitting at the bit-flipper all day.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Good luck KB2JPD

      73 de VE2LRZ

    • by mattr ( 78516 )

      Good luck and your efforts are much appreciated!!!! Stay safe and healthy.

    • Hi Adam KB2JPD FDNY*EMS Best of luck out there and come back safe
  • ..are you going to go, Bruce?

  • by LordHighExecutioner ( 4245243 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @08:15AM (#55265473)
    Satellite phone []
    • At a cost of what per minute?

      Itâ(TM)s cheaper and easier to deploy hams in shelters, just adds one more mouth to feed, one more soul to find a cot at the shelter.

    • by thule ( 9041 )
      At the same time Irma was happening, the Earth was getting hit by a solar flare. It was the "perfect storm" in that we were experiencing a terrestrial storm and a solar flare at the same time. The solar flare impacts HF radio ( 30Mhz), GPS accuracy and satellite phones. VHF can still be useful, but long distance HF skip is iffy. Hams have some nice digital modes that can burst data. I would still rather have access to ham radios in a situation like that over sat phones. Search TamithaSkov on youtube for spa
    • Fema is providing every city and town with a satellite phone. []
  • Hate the Red Cross (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @08:43AM (#55265595)

    I know this is second-hand and anecdotal, however, it's not the only time nor the last will I hear about the Red Cross behaving badly.

    In 1966, my dad was standing on a pier in San Francisco waiting, with thousands of other brave men, for the troop ships that would take them to fight in Vietnam. The ships were due to depart at about 0800. At about 0530, the Red Cross comes around selling coffee and donuts to the troops. My dad, an immigrant already, thought it weird and declined. Thirty minutes later, the Salvation Army comes around GIVING THEM AWAY FOR FREE to the troops. My dad never forgot that.

    I knew a lady personally who was sent a bill for blankets and bottled water after her area was flooded.

    Just recently in Houston, the Red Cross rejected pleas of help from people who really needed it.

    I will never help them for any reason. Were it the Salvation Army needing HAMs, I'd pay for my own ticket.

  • by kenh ( 9056 )

    The American Red Cross is likely looking for round-the-clock operators to staff about a dozen facilities in two or three shift âdaysâ(TM) - to augment/supplement the hams already on staff.

    Iâ(TM)m sure some local hams are also assisting, but suspect most are busy trying to rebuild their lives.

  • by sabbede ( 2678435 ) on Tuesday September 26, 2017 @08:58AM (#55265689)
    They've got to be hungry.
  • CQ CQ QUA /.? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Today's Slashdot outage is an excellent example of why Commercial Communications, and especially the Internet, needs volunteer backups like Hams with their own Gear.
    BTW, will we ever get an explanation as to why Slashdot and Sourceforge were down all day?
    2 Meters and Repeaters aren't good enough. They won't reach the Mainland from Puerto Rico for one thing. It's fine for local stuff, as long as the Repeaters stay up, but how many of them are on Emergency Generators? And if so, for how long?
    A QRP Sideband Ri

  • It's been a long time since the Red Cross has done anything useful.

    Ideally the RC should hire the public works department of Burning Man to do their disaster logistics...and should have plans for how to handle the various disasters that strike. They don't.

    But looking for HAMs is a good first step towards a new, more effective Red Cross.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The RC is simply trying to get in the way of what Hams are already doing. I've been relaying health and welfare messages every evening since a couple of days after the hurricane. Many other hams are doing same.

    The RC and the ARRL like to get their mitts on stuff like this so they can use it for fundraising. All they're going to do is inject a bunch of huge bureaucracy into something that is already functioning exactly as it is supposed to.

  • I had a really short shortwave radio, and I'm talking super-duper short. So short that I had to get rid of it.

    It kept turning my neighbors into Hulks.

I've got a bad feeling about this.