HF Radio Assisting Disaster Relief in Peru

Unidad 4x4 volunteer team

In Peru, a country regularly effected by severe flooding, landslides and other natural disasters, a community of similar four-wheel drive enthusiasts, with a heart to serve those impacted by natural disasters, have come together to support aid agency efforts in remote regions throughout the country.

The founder of Unidad 4×4, a registered nonprofit organisation, Mr. Aníbal Paredes, said they based their organisation on the British organisation 4×4 Response.

Mr Paredes said: "We are not a search-and-rescue, health care or first aid organization, but we work with these organizations when they need external local logistical support. Our purpose is to provide humanitarian aid to people in emergency situations affected by phenomena of nature; our attention focuses particularly in remote areas and areas difficult to access due to terrain, where 4×4 vehicles can get to."

Immediately following a natural disaster, communication is vital to understand the situation and to assess the best way forward. With previous personal experience as a volunteer member of the Defensa Civil organization rescue squad, Mr Paredes recognised this need and also understood that high-frequency (HF) radio communications is often the only viable mode of communication following a natural disaster, as it does not rely on infrastructure such as telephone towers or mains powers to maintain communication.

At a flea market organised by a local ham radio club, Mr Paredes found a Barrett 2050 HF transceiver and negotiated a good price. On taking it home and powering it up, it was found that there were some issues preventing it from operating as expected. On contacting the technical support team at Barrett Communications in Perth, Western Australia, they were able to update the latest firmware version and the Barrett 2050 HF transceiver is now fully operational.

On hearing of Unidad 4×4 and what they are achieving, Barrett Communications initially donated an ex-demonstration Barrett 2019 antenna and additional accessories to upgrade the vehicle installation into Mr Paredes’ Land Rover. More recently, further needs have been identified and Barrett is working to supply a permanent base station and other ex-demonstration communication equipment and accessories to allow Unidad 4×4 to expand the work they are already doing.

Barrett Communications managing director Mr Greg O’Neill commented: "Unidad 4×4 is providing support to these aid organisations and assisting many small communities in regional Peru, we are pleased we can donate our ex-demonstration equipment and assist them in making an impact in the lives of people who, in many cases, have lost everything."

Barrett Communications work with many critical infrastructure organisations, including airports, health services, power and oil and gas distributors throughout the world to develop emergency communications systems to maintain voice, email, fax, and text communication during and following manmade and natural disasters.

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