Honduras

February IHS Project Report

When not on the radio KX5SP working as oral surgery assistant.

When not on the radio KX5SP working as oral surgery assistant.

International Health Service (IHS), a non-profit, non-religious, all volunteer organization with headquarters in Minnesota (ihsmn.org), has been providing medical and dental care to the impoverished people in the most remote areas of Honduras for 30 years. Every year approximately ten teams including physicians, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, eyeglass techs, engineers, and radio operators spread out across Honduras, the poorest country in Central America. Many of the remote villages that we serve make the phrase “off the grid” seem like luxury. Some locations require long travels on river boats to reach. Others require a flight into remote back-country airstrips to get to. There are some locations we operate in where there is no indigenous electricity, no cell service, no internet, no running water, etc.

The majority of these teams deploy with an experienced amateur radio operator to provide a communications link for the team to the outside world. For the most part Pactor 3 on the Winlink system is used to send and receive email from villages with little infrastructure. Messages may be medical consultations with specialists, arrangements for patient transfers to hospitals or our surgery team location, coordination with IHS staff in Honduras, and health and welfare messages from the medical team members to their families back home.

This past February 2018 I deployed as a radio operator to support a medical/dental team to villages in the western mountains of Honduras. I set up a Yaesu FT-100D, SCS Pactor modem, and an end-fed long wire strewn thru the trees. Any of the ubiquitous system of Winlink RMS gateway stations was available to connect to of course, but N5TW, a mega-station in central Texas supported our Honduras deployment by aiming his vast antenna farm beaming towards Honduras during our time down there. I found the Winlink system to be virtually 100% dependable. N5TW was consistently 7 S-units above the low noise floor. There was only one time I was not able to establish a connection with N5TW and that was when he had to disconnect during a lightning storm. In that case I had no trouble connecting with an RMS in Sarasota, Florida to send and receive traffic.

I have been providing emergency communications for various entities for many years. Just 2 months before my Honduras mission I found myself doing emergency communications on the island of Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Then too, the primary mode of communications was Pactor 3 & 4 into the Winlink system. Unquestionably Winlink has become the dependable standard for serious, real-world EMCOMMs.

The IHS is always looking for radio communications talent to support these medical teams. It's not for everybody. An “outdoors type” with camping experience (you may be living out of a tent), very flexible personality, and experience with HF communications is the ideal candidate. Those interested in more information can contact the IHS Communications Director, John Kirkof, KB0UUP, for more information at: jmkkek at yahoo dot com.

I have been all over the world on a lot of interesting missions but found my Honduras mission was the most personally rewarding.

Dr. Steve Posner KX5SP/HR6 (now back stateside)

International Health Service Needs You!

IHS dugout transports half a team up the Kruta River in Honduras.
Daily clinic work by IHS.

You Are Needed! IHS needs Hams for their upcoming February clinical/surgery mission to help the poor of Honduras. John Kirckof, KB0UUP, IHS Communications Director, writes that medical and dental professionals have committed to go so at least 11-12 multi-talented teams will deploy across Honduras February 13-27, 2015. They are still short of non-medical team members, interpreters, ham radio operators, and general helpers. Winlink radio email, HF and VHF phone have been used for mission communications since the early 2000's. Most returning hams describe the IHS experience as the real deal: For the radio experience, you'll never find a disaster drill or exercise to equal the large-scale deployment like an IHS mission. But there is so much more; Lives are saved and good work done every trip.

When: Applications for the February mission are due mid-September! But they need help, so lateness is not a real problem.

What International Health Services Does: The organization has been doing medical clinics and surgical work in Honduras for over 32 years. So, they know where to go, who to go to and what supplies to send to make a big difference in the Honduras people’s lives. Many IHS veterans go year after year so new volunteers work along side many experienced people.

Go to the IHS web site at http://www.IHSMN.org. Call John Kirckof, at 320-634-4386 for details, photos, etc.
**They say the hardest part of going is deciding to fill out the application**

Subscribe to RSS - Honduras
Winlink Linkomatic