“We had a stressful night on the island!” That’s how Puerto Rico volunteer Jeremy Dougherty, NS0S, described a medical emergency on the island of Culebra in which Amateur Radio played a major role. Dougherty, a Force of 50 American Red Cross volunteer who is supporting communication at Culebra Hospital, said fumes from a gasoline fuel container ignited last evening (October 12), seriously injuring a woman who needed immediate help. Dougherty was unable to raise any of the other volunteers in San Juan — likely because of the late hour — but the only doctor at the hospital at the time called Centro de Medico (Medical Central) on a satellite phone to coordinate transportation for the patient. The only other after-hours staff was a nurse.
“This patient was far from being within our scope to treat at this facility,” Dougherty said. “The patient had burns to at least 30% of her body. I had to do a lot of medical work here. The nurse knew the patient — this is a small community — and she left to get belongings from the [burn victim’s] house.” That left Dougherty — a medic who works for the Kansas City (Missouri) Fire Department — to administer first aid.
“I carried out all of the orders the doctor gave me. We cut off a lot of skin. We wrapped her burns,” he recounted. “We got an IV and started IV antibiotics and fluids. I also checked the vitals pretty constantly.”
Helicopter transport to San Juan was arranged for the patient, who was in critical condition, in shock, and shivering; Dougherty said he donated his blanket. He then was tasked with contacting the patient’s family
At around 0200 UTC, Dougherty got on 40 meters, interrupting a pileup of stations trying to work special event station N4F, which was being run at the time by Kevin Young, KC7FPF, in Bronson, Florida.
“I did not get into specifics. But, I did give him the first name of the patient, the first name of the relative with the phone number, and the facility she was being taken to,” Dougherty said. “I explained my location and our limited resources. No phones, no internet, no power.” He told Young that the victim had suffered burns from a gasoline explosion and was in critical condition.
“We had complete radio silence while we were passing traffic,” Dougherty said. “We were literally passing traffic as the helicopter flew overhead.” KC7FPF told ARRL he was able to contact the family and relay the news.
“I heard a station calling asking for a break among the pileup,” Young said. “I could tell this was different than the rest…I instructed all stations to stand by and let me reply.”
Young said copy was poor with an increasing noise level, but he was able to pull out NS0S, get the message, and pass along the news to the family in Connecticut. He said he’d remain available if any further help was needed.
The woman was transferred from Culebra to the burn unit at Centro de Medico. Using WinLink2 e-mail, Dougherty asked the American Red Cross Amateur Radio volunteers in San Juan to reach out to a friend of the victim to explain the situation and her status.
Dougherty said he successfully passed the information to notify the patient’s family, noting Young’s extreme patience as they attempted to send call signs and messages hampered by poor conditions. “He definitely stepped up to the challenge of the unexpected emergency and handled it quite well,” Dougherty said. “Someone needs to pin a medal on his chest.”
Dougherty said he was able to get the hospital’s HF antenna back up the previous evening, with help from local firefighters.
“Hello everybody and welcome back to the Everything Ham Radio Podcast! In this episode we are going to talk about Stealth Antennas, we talk abou... Read more
SainSonic releases its debut radios – SainSonic RST599 two-way radios. This revolutionary design marks the start of an exciting new produ... Read more
Yaesu FTM-3207DR and FT-2980R will be available late summer / early fall! Yaesu FT-2980R 80W FM 2M Mobile Transceiver As its model name suggests, the... Read more
The RS-RP3C gateway software which is being rolled out across the globe is now available from Icom UK. The new software has significant improvements o... Read more
In part one of our reports from Hamfest 2017 we have a sneak preview of the Icom IC-7610 and IC-R8600 rigs. We meet the new owners of PW Magazine, and... Read more
AMPTEC LA4000 HF Power Amplifier , designed for use on all short wave amateur bands from 1.8 to 29.7 MHz , including WARC bands and all modes. It is e... Read more
Kenwood TS-990S HF/6m Giving you a rare glimpse behind the scenes at Kenwood’s Communications Division factory at Yamagata, in northern Japan,... Read more