View Sidebar

Archive for category: News Releases

Ham Radio Isn’t Just for Hurricanes: Ham Radio Assists in Rescue of Missing Mariner

Ham Radio Isn’t Just for Hurricanes: Ham Radio Assists in Rescue of Missing Mariner

by Larry Pruss, NP2LP & Fred Kleber, K9VV / NP2X
[St. John, US Virgin Islands, October 3, 2018] It was Thursday night and I was nodding in and out while watching TV. From the other room I heard what sounded like a weak scratchy signal trying to access the local repeater. I ignored it at first, and heard scratchiness again. The “L” in CW at the end of each transmission meant the transmitting station was via the UHF link of the newly installed inter-island repeater system.

Half asleep I stumbled into the other room and transmitted, “This is Fred, NP2X on St. Croix. The station trying to access the repeater, you are very noisy into the system, please try it again.” Again I heard a very scratchy station breaking the squelch of the repeater. Again I responded, “Sorry, you’re still unintelligible into the repeater. If you are using a handheld, please try moving a bit and try again.” On the next transmission I could make out a couple of syllables in a young girl’s voice.” I responded, “OK that location is better and I heard a little bit. Don’t change your location. What is your call sign?”

In a calm voice I heard, “This is Tia”. I immediately recognized the voice as that of Tatiana “Tia” Pruss, NP2RE. Tia is the youngest daughter of St. John hams Larry (NP2LP) & Jennifer (NP2QT) Pruss. Finally my head was becoming clearer and I thought to myself, “Isn’t it a bit late for someone of Tia’s age to be on the radio?” I responded to Tia, “OK Tia, I understand that is you. Is everything OK? Do you need help?” Again the answer was a scratchy uncopiable signal. I responded, “Tia, please give me a yes or no on if you need help.” Tia calmly responded, “No, everything is OK.” I responded, “OK Tia, I will standby on frequency in case you need anything.” What I heard unfold made me proud to be a ham in the USVI.

Unbeknownst to me, Tia’s parents had been attending the monthly meeting of St. John Rescue, a volunteer organization serving the St John, USVI community. Shortly after arriving to the meeting, St. John Rescue received a request for assistance from the VI Police Department. They had received a report of a dingy spotted washed up on the rocks in Reef Bay with no occupant. Larry and Jennifer immediately left the St. John Rescue meeting and headed to Reef Bay. Other members of St. John Rescue headed to the marina to begin conducting the maritime portion of the search.

What follows is Larry’s summary in his own words. “Jennifer and I set about traversing the various shorelines and beaches in the dark in search of the boater. The terrain became too rocky for Jennifer to continue, so she remained behind perched on the rocks providing flood lighting. As the Rescue radio coverage was marginal, Jennifer and I kept in touch with our VHF amateur HAM radios. When the lights of the Rescue boat became visible in the bay, both Jennifer and I found we had unreliable communications with the boat.

I came upon the dingy which had crashed upon the rocks. After finding the dingy and continued traversing the rocky shoreline, I pondered returning due to the jagged rocky shoreline. Just before making a decision to return, I encountered the boater huddled along the shore in a rock crevice. The boater reported his boat hit the reef, was thrown from the dingy, and ended up on the rocky shore. His position was an extremely treacherous spot which the Rescue boat could not reach. We were at the water’s edge at the base of a tall seashore cliff. Besides some minor scratches, the boater was cold and thirsty. I gave him a Mylar blanket for warmth and he gladly drank the water we brought.

With no cell service and having difficulty with our VHF radio, the immediate need was to notify the Rescue boat that we had located the missing person and discuss his evacuation.

Using our Yaesu Ham radios Jennifer called our daughters Tia, NP2RE and Skylar, NP2QS, at our home and requested they relay we had located the missing person to the Rescue boat. Tia and Skylar immediately went about contacting the some other Rescue members that passed along the message that we had found the missing individual.

The boater was not able to hike out from our location as he was both exhausted and without shoes. Jennifer hiked to the top of the hill to acquire some shoes from a house to protect the patient’s feet as we moved him from the sharp rocks. Due to the proximity of the reef and large waves, it was also not feasible to land the Rescue boat on the beach. Another Rescue member, Dylan Baird, arrived on scene and managed to reach me. He had taken a 4-wheeler to the site, hiked down the beach, and climbed the dangerous rocks to reach the boater’s location. Dylan had the good idea to try using the dingy to get our Rescue subject to the Rescue boat. In the dark, Dylan and I pulled the dingy off the rocks, bailed enough water out of it to keep it afloat, and started the engine. Dylan made a break for the reef to get the boat further drained of water and to coordinate next steps with the Rescue boat.

I stayed with the boater. Dylan reached the Rescue boat and returned with Brian Grassi, another Rescue member, a short time later. We put a lifejacket on the boater and together they transported him to the Rescue boat. Upon reaching the harbor, he was transported to the local clinic for treatment.”

We felt good about a number of things:

 Within approximately thirty minutes of locating the injured boater, he was transported to the Rescue boat.  Our daughters aged 12 and 13 flawlessly executed the relay of critical information using their newly learned skills. (Note: Tia has been HAM licensed 2 weeks and Skylar 5 months)  The HAM radio and Rescue training our family received and practiced, may have well saved a life

Following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, Larry and Jennifer Pruss have been the sparkplugs of a new generation of hams on St. John. In the last 6 months, and with the support of St John Rescue, they have held two HAM class sessions resulting in 23 new hams on St. John (19) St. Thomas (2) and the BVI (2) have been licensed through their instructional efforts. These new licensees are members of the community, St. John Rescue, the National Park Service, the Fire Department, and include 4 children under 13 years old.

Want to know more about ham radio? Check out Want to know more about ham radio in the Virgin Islands? Please visit Want to know more about St John Rescue? Please visit

Spread the love
November 19, 20180 commentsRead More


October 25, 2018
St. Charles, MO
The Board of Directors of The Yasme Foundation announces that it has made a significant grant to ARISS (Amateur Radio on the International Space Station, in support of the Critical Infrastructure Fund. Yasme has supported this important upgrade to the ISS amateur station since the effort began and challenges other organizations and individuals to support it, as well. As of late 2018, ARISS is the only non-commercial entity being considered for NASA’s Deep Space Gateway program, indicating the importance with which the space program views amateur radio. Putting and keeping amateur radio in space is a significant expense and needs the support of the entire amateur community.
The Yasme Excellence Award is presented to individuals and groups who, through their own service, creativity, effort and dedication, have made a significant contribution to amateur radio. The contribution may be in recognition of technical, operating or organizational achievement, as all three are necessary for amateur radio to grow and prosper. The Yasme Excellence Award is in the form of a cash grant and an individually-engraved crystal globe.
The Board of Directors of The Yasme Foundation is pleased to announce the latest recipients of the Yasme Excellence Award:
Brian Machesney, K1LI and Michelle Guenard—in recognition of their extraordinary efforts on behalf of Commonwealth of Dominica communities in the wake of the 2017 hurricane season. Their efforts included fund-raising, delivery of communications supplies, on-site support, and application of amateur radio technologies to support the relief efforts which continue today.
Fred Kleber, K9VV/KP2—in recognition of Fred’s leadership and technical skills that support the Virgin Island’s emergency communications capabilities. Fred has been a key player long before hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated the islands. He is hard at work today re-building and extending the inter-island communication systems even after his own station suffered extensive damage.
Zorro Miyazawa, JH1AJT—for his extensive promotion of amateur radio in developing counties. Governments and telecommunications administrators in Bangladesh (S2), Bhutan (A5), Cambodia (XU), Eritrea (E3), and Myanmar (XZ) have benefited from Zorro’s patient and skillful efforts, supporting his own government and his fellow amateurs in Japan and around the world.
Stu Phillips, K6TU— for contributions to amateur radio through his Propagation and DX Strategy website, In particular, his innovative tools, free for amateur use, enhance the use of the High Frequency Terrain Analysis (HFTA) program developed by Dean Straw, N6BV, another Excellence Award recipient in 2012.
Randy Wright, W6CUA—in recognition of his long service to the Yasme Foundation as our Awards Manager. His steady efforts and exacting attention to detail and customer service are greatly appreciated.
The Yasme Foundation is a not-for-profit corporation organized to support scientific and educational projects related to amateur radio, including DXing (long distance communication) and the introduction and promotion of amateur radio in developing countries. For additional information about The Yasme Foundation, visit our website at
Ward Silver, NØAX, President
The Yasme Foundation
Board of Directors:
Ward Silver, NØAX, President and Director
Ken Claerbout, K4ZW, Vice-President, Secretary and Director
Rusty Epps, W6OAT, Treasurer and Director
Hans Blondeel Timmerman, PB2T, Director
Martti Laine, OH2BH, Director
Fred Laun, K3ZO, Director
Robert Vallio, W6RGG, Director
Marty Woll, N6VI, Director
Spread the love
November 5, 20180 commentsRead More