SPRINGFIELD, IL (09/23/2017) (readMedia)-- The Illinois Air National Guard's 126th Communications Flight left Scott Air Force Base to assist with search and rescue efforts Sept. 23 to Puerto Rico in support of Hurricane Maria recovery efforts.
"We're being called to support search and rescue efforts in Puerto Rico," said Master Sgt. Eric Peterman, the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability superintendent.
"This self-contained package will allow for the responders to communicate with other areas and locations even though their commercial network may be down."
Staff Sgt. Helmut Woodberry, a fiber transport specialist, said their capabilities allow for voice, data, radio and video connections.
"The communications equipment we're bringing will allow the rescue teams to coordinate in real time through video and voice calls," said Woodberry. "We're also bringing extra laptops to set up an internet café to allow people to contact family and friends to let them know they're safe."
The communicators are expecting an austere location when they land.
"We were told to bring everything we need for the first seven days," said Peterman. "Food, water, tents and cots are all coming with us, along with an air conditioner and generator to keep the equipment cool enough to operate."
Peterman said the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability is intended to assist disaster response teams by giving task force commanders a vital tool to assist with search and recovery efforts.
Cutline 1: Staff Sgt. Joshua Neal, a client system specialist with the 126th Communications Flight, checks an inventory list for equipment his team is taking to Puerto Rico to help with recovery of Hurricane Maria. The Illinois Air National Guard unit, located at Scott Air Force Base, is deploying their Joint Incident Site Communications Capability package and team members to assist with search and recovery efforts.