Emergency Communications via amateur radio to/from Haiti have been interestingly a non-event. This is due to the lack of operable ham stations in Haiti in the first days of the disaster. The first ham heard from was Father John Henault (note 1), amateur callsign HH6JH and he was on battery power! When hams can’t get on the air (and there aren’t many in Haiti anyway), that tells you the extent of the disaster.
My interest in following this situation is, in addition to wanting to be ready to help where I can, that I recently became the Burnet County Emergency Coordinator for the Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) of the ARRL(note 2). There are lessons to be learned by observing what happens with the Haiti disaster and amateur radio.
What early lessons are learned? Many nets both on various HF frequencies and on Echolink have been activated with 24/7 operations. Net control stations are making periodic announcements just waiting to hear signals coming out of Haiti. The amount of health and welfare reports to come OUT of Haiti are bound to be many, in time. But right now it’s time to listen and, unfortunately, many well-meaning operators are attempting to check into those nets when check-ins are not asked for. That zeal is, nevertheless, a tribute to the selflessness of hams worldwide who are standing by to help and ready at a moment’s notice. While a huge majority of the stations heard are from the U.S., there are many from the Caribbean and South America. I’ve also heard French Canadians and one Israeli. The international ham radio community is an amazing group.
(1) Rev John Henault OMI, is from the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate and works in Haiti helping to provide care for homeless and orphaned children.
(2) ARRL, the national association for amateur radio a/k/a the American Radio Relay League.