You never know when the call will come
Ed Petzolt, K1LNC
This article is reprinted from the July 2000 issue of Worldradio.
Ed, Rick Lindquist here. Can you check out a situation on the Intercon Net for me? I think there's something
happening. Call you back, Rick."
I strolled into the shack and pushed the power button on the Yaesu FT-1000MP transceiver. The display lit up and I selected the log periodic antenna.
I gathered that a boat off the coast of Honduras had been attacked by pirates the previous day and that a young boy had been shot. The mother and son had been taken ashore by the Honduran Navy and a conversation was going on between the father, a relay station in PennsyIvania and the Honduran naval HQ in Tegucigalpa. The relay was necessary because propagation did not allow a direct connection. But the propagation was changing and the station in Pennsylvania was having trouble copying the father on his boat and the navy.
Net control asked for help. I was hearing everyone just fine. I powered up the 'kilowatt amplifier, swung the antenna toward Central America and burned a path through the airwaves with 5,000 watts of effective radiated power aimed right at the boat.
"This is K1LNC in Florida, can I help?" I had no idea what that question would mean later on -- to me and to a family in trouble.
"K1LNC this is KH2TD maritime mobile. Can you relay between me and the authorities?"
"Yes, I copy you both fine, fill me in."
And he did. I was speaking with Jacco van Tujjl. Seems like the day before, Jacco, his wife, Janni, and their thirteen year old son, Willem, anchored in shallow water 37 miles off the Honduran/Nicaraguan border in a place called Half Moon Cay.
Jacco and Willem left their 44 foot sailboat (named Hayat) and dinghied over to another sailboat nearby. Shortly after they reached the other boat Jacco noticed an open fishing boat with Gut men aboard come along side Hayat. This was not all that unusual. Fishermen ply their trades in these waters hoping to pick up a few dollars in trade for their catch. What was unusual was that they were boarding Hayat with AK-47s. Poor fishermen don't carry automatic weapons.
Jacco and Willem jumped into their dinghy and tried to get back as quickly as possible. But their dinghy was powered by a five horsepower outboard and the trip seemed to take forever. Janni was screaming for Jacco to turn around. She knew that if Jacco and Willem were captured they would probably all be killed.
Jacco turned around. The pirates opened fire on the inflatable Zodiac. Bullets were thumping into the air chambers that held them afloat. The dinghy started to deflate -- and Willem took an AK-47 round to his side. He dropped into the dinghy, unable to feel anything below his waist, but aware that he had been shot.
The dinghy lost so much air that it would no longer support Jacco and Willem's weight and they were spilled out into the water. Jacco began swimming back to Hayat, holding Willem's head above water as best he could.
The pirates motored over to them and began to swing machetes at them. Jacco screamed that they were killing his son. The pirates decided to grab what was left of the Zodiac and motor and leave.
Jacco got Willem back to Hayat and Janni and he managed to get him back on board. Jacco reached fi)r his Amateur Radio and called for help. Amateur Radiu operators all over the U.S. put their training into action that got Jacco on-the-air medical help. They then contacted the Honduran authorities who told Jacco that they could not reach him where he was and he would have to motor all night long to a rendezvous point.
Jacco pushed Hayat to her hull speed and rendezvoused with the navy early the next morning. The Navy took mother and son ashore to Porto Limpcra, a small village. Willem was evaluated by the local doctors and they determined that they did not have the facilities to treat him. The Hondurans contacted the U.S. Army base at Sato Cano. A Blackhawk Medevac helicopter was sent to get them and airlift them to La Ceiba, where a much better hospital was located.
Meanwhile, back on Hayat, Jacco did not know where his son and wife were, nor did he know whether his son was alive or dead.
"Ed, please tell the authorities that I need to know where Willem and Janni were taken."
I called the Honduran Navy, but they were unable to give us any information. But they had questions -- like, "Were the pirates wearing uniforms? What kind of weapons did they have? What was the description of their boat? What kind of motor? Did they say where they were from? What did they want? Which direction did they go," etc., etc.
The authorities pried all the information that they could out of Jacco and signed off, promising to return with news of his son's condition.
Two hours passed and still no word, and I was unable to raise them again. Jacco's voice, once fairly calm, was now tinged with fear. I thought, "This is not right. I gotta do something." I called Jacco.
"KH2TD, this is K1LNC."
"Go ahead Ed."
"Jacco, I'm going to get on the phone here to see what I can find out about Willem. I'll be off the air for awhile, but if you need me just call. I'll monitor the frequency."
"OK Ed. I'll wait for your call. KH2TD standing by."
I called the A.T.&T. operator and told her I needed the number for the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa. Thirty seconds later I had it. I called and spoke with Colonel Kuhrs who gave me the telephone number of the
hospital in La Ceiba.
I called La Ceiba and through a haze of horrible Spanish I managed to get through to Janni.
"Janni, my name is Ed Petzolt. I'm a Ham radio operator in Florida. You don't know me, but I have Jacco on Hayat waiting to talk with you. Are you up to it?"
"Oh thank God! Yes, yes, yes -- please put him through. I've been trying for hours to contact him."
"OK, hang on. KH2TD this is K1LNC. Jacco are you there?"
"Right here, Ed."
"I have Janni on the phone and ! will patch you in."
I connected the radio to the phone line through a phone patch unit.
"Jacco, Janni is on the line and you are ! tied in. Go."
A 20-minute conversation ensued in which Janni told her husband that their son was still in surgery. The doctors had made a preliminary assessment of his condition and had determined that the bullet had passed through at least one kidney, and probably both. But the really bad news was that his spine had been damaged. The extent of that injury was not known prior to surgery. Janni promised to call me when Willem was in recovery.
I terminated the patch and spoke with Janni again.
"Janni, maybe you should consult with the doctors after Willem comes out of surgery to see if Willem can or should be moved to the U.S. for treatment. I'll start making inquiries here in case you need to do that."
"Yes, I will. Thank you, Ed. ! will call you as soon as I know anything." I went back to Jacco. "Jacco, what's your plan?"
"Ed, I'm going to motor to Roatan starting at first light in the morning. It should take about 14 hours. But I'll be listening if you get Janni again."
"Roger, as soon as I get word, I'll call you on this frequency."
I started making phone calls. First my family doctor, then a neurologist, who told me that I was about to run into a buzz saw of problems from the State Department, INS, Customs -- then to a nurse friend, Senator Bob Graham, Hillary Clinton, Shriners Hospitals all over the country --I lost track of all the calls. I sent e-mails to everyone I could think of who might be able to help.
At about 1600 hours, Janni called. The news was not good. Both of Willem's kidneys had been penetrated by the bullet. The surgeons had managed to restore partial function to one of them, but the other was thought to be beyond repair. The really bad news was that Willem's spine had been hit and that his spinal cord was severed. Janni was crying. I was too. The doctors recommended that he be taken to the U.S. after recovering from surgery sufficient for travel. Suddenly, this family, this young man became the center of my world.
I tried to raise Jacco. No luck. I knew if he was listening that he'd hear me. Janni swore me to secrecy about the severed spinal cord. When I spoke with Jacco I could tell him everything but that. He had a long and dangerous solo journey ahead of him and he needed every ounce of concentration to get him though it. I agreed.
About 1600 EDT I reached Jacco. He had no sleep the previous night and was napping when I tried to reach him an hour earlier. I relayed all the information that I could.
"Ed, what about his spine? Do you know anything about that?"
I was about to lie to a man who was, depending on me to tell him the truth. But I had to.
"Jacco, I have no information for you on that."
I could hear the tears welling up in his throat.
"OK, Ed, I understand," he choked out. Then silence for a long time. Jacco knew. He could see through my clumsy attempt at keeping him in the dark. I hated what I just did.
Wednesday, 28 April was drawing to a close. No more could be done until tomorrow morning. I made a schedule with Jacco to meet him on the same frequency at 0800 EDT
I didn't get a lot of sleep that night.
I kept the schedule with Jacco who had gotten underway at first light-- destination Roatan Island. I patched Janni in to him again and she informed him that Willem had spent an uneventful night in intensive care. Still no disclosure of his paralysis.
I received a call from Dr. Jim Hirschmann, one of the doctors who had helped the family save Willem's life on Tuesday night. He had made contact with Jackson Memorial Medical Center in Miami.
Jackson was sympathetic to the family's plight, but would not accept Willem until payment arrangements were made and confirmed. Further, they wanted complete medical records from La Ceiba.
Shriner's Hospital in Philadelphia also called. They weren't worried about payment for their services, but they, too, wanted Willem's records. And how to get Willem to the states? An air ambulance would cost $15,000. The family didn't have that kind of money available to them. Thursday was spent trying to get the details ironed out between these two hospitals and the hospital in La Ceiba.
I spoke with Jacco constantly during the day while he was en route to Roatan. I patched Janni to him several times. Willem was stable and had limited kidney function.
Several sailors and Hams on Roatan came out to meet Jacco to assist him in docking his boat. He arrived at approximately 2000 hours Honduras time. Too late to catch a ferry or airplane to La Ceiba, about fifty miles away. Jacco contacted Janni by telephone from Roatan. He then settled in for a sleepless night until the first flight out at 0700.
Jacco, Janni and Willem were reunited at 0830 on Friday morning. Jacco stayed at the hospital for awhile and then was taken in by a local Amateur Radio operator, Hector Godoy, HR3HGB. I contacted Jacco at Hector's station at 1030 hours. By this time I had received a call from Jim Haynie, WSJBP.
"Ed, this is Jim Haynie in Dallas. What do you need to get this thing done?"
"Jim, I need the family flown to the U.S. and for Willem to get the best treatment he can get with a minimum amount of hassle and a maximum amount of speed. I think this kid will die in Honduras unless we get this done. Failure is not an option." "I'll see what I can do."
Jim's secretary, Stacy, called me a few minutes later. I filled her in on all the activities to date. God bless her -- she got on the phone and started making calls. In the meantime, I was still talking with Jackson and Shriners. They had the medical records by now via fax.
Jackson was still hung up on thc payment issue. Jacco had insurance -- the kind that cruising sailors get when they are away from home. But the papers were on the boat and he was fifty miles away. I contacted a Ham in Roatan on a boat and he went to Jacco's boat to get the information.
By now it was after noon local time. The insurance company was in Germany - 5 hours ahead of us in time. No confirmation could be obtained by anyone as to the status of the insurance. More status calls from Stacy. Several hospitals were contacted in Dallas, and Children's Medical Center looked promising.
Got a call from Congressman Pete Sessions office. They wanted to know what they could do to help. I brought them up to speed and took another call from Stacy.
I had not informed Jacco of the Dallas activity as of yet. I figured that it would only confuse the issue until I had confirmation from one of the hospitals that they would accept Willem on a no guarantee of payment basis.
At about 1630 hours, after many many phone calls and faxes, Stacy called with Children's on the line. They wanted some information from Jacco as to his profession etc. I patched them into Jacco. At I645 Stacy called back with Children's on the phone again Willem had been approved. In fact, Children's was sending their Lear Jet 35 equipped as a flying hospital with a trauma team to pick them all up and fly them to Dallas. The emotion that I had been holding back came over me like a flood. I reached
for the microphone to tell Jacco the good news.
"KH2TD this K1LNC, over."
"Go ahead, Ed."
"Jacco, Children's Medical Center in Dallas is sending their aircraft within an hour to pick you, Janni and Willem up. They have agreed to fly you to Dallas and accept Willem as a patient and to do it all with no concern for the cost. The aircraft will arrive in approximately three hours."
"Jacco, did you copy?"
Hector's voice came on. "Ed, give us a minute -- we copied". A moment later Jacco came on, his voice running the gamut of emotions from joy to relief to ... "Ed, I can't believe what you've done. I can never thank you enough. I must call Janni and tell her. Thank God!"
There were some last minute snags -- but the aircraft arrived in La Ceiba at about 045 hours. Willem and his family were flown to Dallas where Willem received emergency treatment to restore his kidney function. When he was placed on the aircraft his kidneys had failed completely.
His spinal cord was severed. He will probably never walk again.
But this is not the end of the story. Not by a long shot.
Another mode of communication: Netmeeting
This article orginally appeared in the January, 2000 edition of "Keyed Up", the newsletter of the Lake Monroe(FL) ARS, Jack Volsin, N4JCN, ed.
The internet is becoming more of a too! to communicate around the world.
We already know of all the information we can get through an internet connection. Almost everything is available at your finger tips; you can order goods, shop around for the best prices on an item you want, but not need, find information about your health, the list of possibilities is too long to put in this newsletter.
Prices for computer hardware falls lower every day. A few months ago a small video camera would cost around $200-$300 dollars. The same item today can be bought for less than $100.00. This opens the door for universal video conferencing with fast modems, and now with very fast cable modems.
NetMeeting is a program designed by Microsoft, for Video conferencing. The best is that it is free for everyone to download. Of course to use it, you need an internet connection to a server (which most of us have). As far as the computer is concerned you need to have a USB port on the mother board (WARNING: most of the cameras do not work when hooked up to an external USB card, the USB has to come from the mother board and most of the recent board have it), your operating system has to be windows 95/98, preferably 98 and your modem preferably 56 KB, and a sound card.
How does it work? Once you are logged in on your inter-net server, you must log in on an ILS, which is more or less like a central office. You must know on which ILS your correspondent is. When you call your party he can accept or refuse your call. If he refuses, you are done. If he accepts, you are connected and you see his pretty or ugly face on your screen. You can then talk to him as you would on the telephone!
For those of us who have relatives in far places it is nice to be able to see each other and share good and bad moments. All for the cost of a local call, no matter where they are.
By now you probably said, "why is he telling us all this, it has nothing to do with our hobby!" Wrong! When i sign up on an ILS, I mention that 1 am a Ham. Since I have been on Net-Meeting, I have talked to other hams all over the world and seen their faces!
On Thanksgiving day, I had a call from a ham around 9:00 AM. We chitchatted back and forth, when he said that he had to go to bed, as Friday would be a long day. "Wait a minute", I said, "it's Thursday". He answered, "Well, here it's Friday!" he was in New Caledonia on the other side of the Date Line. For him, it was 1:00 AM on Friday!
Now, a word of warning. As you know, you can find anything and everything on the internet. This is also true for NetMeeting. If you have young children around, you should monitor very carefully who they connect to, as they mayhave very graphic encounters not always suitable for young tender eyes.
You will be able to find the download site for NetMeeting at http://microsoft.com/
Here are some of the ILS I use: http://ils.total.net http://ils.cyberbmin.com http://ils.microsoft.com
There are many other ILS sites, and a list is available on internet.
Have fun, look at your new friends, grand child or whoever you meet on thenet. Jacques, N4JCV
GRUMMAN AMATEUR RADIO CLUB
MINUTES OF GENERAL MEETING 7/19/00
BY Gordon, KB2UB
Pat, KE2LJ opened meeting at 6:38 PM in the U/L building, Melville. The Secretary was absent. These notes taken by KB2UB. The Treasurer was travelling on company business.
Silent Key -
The Club was saddened to lose Charlie Lundin WB2VEL who passed away the week before. Charlie had been working for the Navy at PAX but had returned to his Long Island home due to ill health.
House Committee -
Pat stated that the Blue Ball will remain on Plant 5. There was some talk of moving it to Calverton as part of the Grumman exhibit.
Bob, W2ILP suggested we investigate the closing of the anechoic chamber with a view towards acquiring some of the RF measuring equipment.
Water tower - We contacted Town of Oyster Bay officials regarding repeater antenna space on the new Bethpage water tower. Attorneys stated that it is rentable space and they would have to get fair market value. Pat is investigating further through Councilman Leonard Symons, a past supporter of the Club.
Move of Club Trailer - Still pending with Facilities.
KB2UB reported both operating normally but Hauppauge hasn't been visited in over a year and needs a look.
WAG - No activity.
Volunteer Examiners -
Bob W2ILP reported there were three VE's present Tuesday but no upgrade applicants. Bob has a
listing of educational literature that VE's can order. Among them are the Part 97 rules. Motion was made by Marty NN2C and seconded by Jack to purchase six copies for club use. Motion was passed.
W2ILP reminded Club of the upcoming Hudson convention.
Field Day -
Pat gave an extensive Field Day report. Our score was around 3700 points plus or minus for a 4 Alfa station. The Club was pleased to have Paul WA2FOF and his family back as active Field Day participants. Operating jointly with Suffolk Radio Club at the Sayville Grange site and using WA2LQO as our call sign, the team operated 15m, 20m, 40m, and 80m, both SSB and CW.
Field Day Trailer - The Club has been seeking a small landscaper type trailer to house the Field Day emergency gear... antennas, poles, cable, generator, etc. .. To this end KE2LJ and KB2UB met with Dick Dunne, Northrop Grumman's Public affairs rep for Bethpage. Dick was sympathetic with our public service aspect and will assist us in seeking a Company grant for a new trailer. The Club is to provide him with a history of our public service events. We recently received a Proclamation from the Town of Islip for Amateur Radio service. This will form the basis for an article to reinforce our request.
Old Business - None
New Business -
W2ILP gave the Hudson Convention dates as Sept 16 and 16, in New Rochelle.
Technical Session -
KB2UB gave a talk on the Coast Guard Auxiliary participation in OPSAIL 2000 held in New York Harbor over the 4th of July holiday. He described the communications facilities and techniques used to integrate the 200 or so law enforcement and emergency services boats and vessels patrolling the Harbor, where 40,000 spectator vessels were expected. The theme of the talk was the camaraderie of ham radio personnel who form the core capabilities of the many federal and state communications agencies involved. Through mutual respect and cooperation, an orderly Millenium event was staged over a three day period.
The meeting adjourned at 7:40 PM.
Learning a new language
An African chieftain flew to the United States to visit the President. A host of reporters and television camera operators met him at the airport. One of the reporters asked the chief if his flight had been comfortable.
The chief made a series of weird noises-"screech, scratch, buzz, whistle, z-z-z-z"-then added in perfect English, "Yes, I had a very nice flight."
Another reporter asked, "ChieI, do you plan to visit the Washington Monument?"
The chief made more noises "screech, scratch, buzz, whistle, z-z-z" then said, "Yes, and I plan to visit the White House and the Capitol Building."
"Where did you learn to speak such flawless English?"
"Screech, scratch, buzz, whistle, z-z-z-z-from the shortwave radio."
From the August '94Delawarelehigh ARC "W30K Corral"-Clarence Snyder, W3PYF,Editor, and the December, '94 issue of the A RNS Bulletin, AF6S editor.