Response Team Travels to Dominica to Restore Communications with HF Technology
Thursday, November 30, 2017 | Comments

First responders from St. Vincent and the Grenadines travelled to the neighboring island of Dominica to re-establish communications in the community of Wesley and to provide medical support to the community following the devastation of Hurricane Maria.

The team of six included three medical staff, an emergency communications specialist and two radio operators. The Wesley Health Center’s lone generator malfunctioned and was significantly impacting patient health. The team restored power to the center, donated medical supplies and supported the existing medical staff to see, in some cases, more than 100 patients per day. Typically the center sees around 20 patients per day.

“Our arrival was timely because there were three recorded deaths due to the Hurricane Maria trauma, and the limited medical attention received, while there were other cases of untreated wounds which had become infected, this need was immediate to avoid amputation,” said Dr. Madada James, a member of the responder team.

The team travelled with two Barrett Communications 2090 HF manpack transceivers and a Barrett tactical broadband antenna, which was connected to the existing HF ham transceivers. The HF network was established and used to coordinate the arrival of medical and food supplies and relay messages to other stations in Dominica where propagation was poor.

“We were able to quickly establish reliable communications both within Dominica and to other islands to support the recovery work,” said Donald de Riggs, the emergency communications specialist on the team. “The tactical broadband antenna worked flawlessly, without a tuner, across the entire HF spectrum — a perfect match for any HF radio.”

The team, together with local villagers, cleared the road from the airport into Wesley, which assisted in the transport of relief supplies to the village. Local water pumps and generators were repaired, allowing locals to charge personal communications devices. The team also assisted the FM radio station with getting back on the air to provide locals with information about the distribution of water and food, as well as general weather updates.

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