the Yasmé Foundation, Yaesu United States, the Foundation for the International Amateur Radio Service (FAIRS) and individual GoFundMe donors joined forces to restore nationwide amateur radio communication to Dominica in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Private pilots Brian Machesney, K1LI, and Dave Bridgham, N1AHF, are scheduled to take off on October 14 from Vermont with a plane full of ham radio gear, emergency equipment and supplies to better prepare the small Caribbean island nation for disasters. . Bridgham is volunteering for Dominica ”Angels in Eden»Airlift led by round-the-world pilot Brian Lloyd, WB6RQN.
“Almost a month after Hurricane Maria, families are still waiting to know if their loved ones are alive or dead or in serious need of medical attention,” said Michelle Guenard, wife of Machesney and spokesperson for the effort. joint. Guenard pointed out that in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which devastated Dominica and its telecommunications infrastructure, “the only news from their families and friends was gleaned through the transmissions of [Amateur Radio] operators. ”She noted that many were able to listen to live streams of amateur radio traffic through Facebook and YouTube live.
Guenard explained that many expatriates in Dominica now want to equip their home villages with amateur radio stations, and she has launched a GoFundMe campaign to that effect. “Once this equipment arrives and is installed throughout the island, we will have achieved our goal,” to provide every human being on the island of Dominica with the ability to call for help. “
Working with a network of contacts developed over decades of visits to Dominica, Machesney and Guenard have established a partnership that has raised more than $ 30,000 in radio equipment and solar-powered battery charging stations. “When fully deployed, Dominica will be part of a strong local, regional and global network of amateur radio stations,” Machesney said.
“Many of our members lost everything in the hurricane,” said Joseph Raymond, J73RJ, president of Dominica Amateur Radio Club Inc. (DARCI). “The donated equipment will dramatically improve our ability in the short term to connect towns and villages across Dominica, and stay connected in the future. “
Yasme President Ward Silver, N0AX, said his organization began working with Dominica Amateur Radio Club and Dominica’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (NTRC) last year to recruit and equip new amateur radio operators for such an emergency. “We are grateful to Yaesu, FAIRS and individual donors for joining us in this effort,” said Silver.
Mikio Maruya, WA6F, executive vice president of engineering for the amateur division of Yaesu USA, said Yaesu “welcomes this opportunity to help Dominica recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria.”
FAIRS President Dave Larsen, KK4WW, pointed out that access to reliable power sources for amateur radio equipment is often overlooked when preparing for emergencies. “These portable off-grid systems will help extend coverage of Dominica’s surviving repeater, enable 24/7 field operations by recharging the batteries of portable radios, and provide base stations in villages that are likely to remain. without commercial electricity for a while to come, ”Larsen said.