It will be interesting to watch out for the stories coming out of Puerto Rico regarding the ARRL's "Team of Fifty" that was sent to help out with communications. I've seen snippets of stories on social media that suggest not everything was wine, chocolate and roses.
The whole subject got me to thinking about what kind of operator would have been the best to send there. I'm sure all the volunteers were screened and only a certain type were chosen. If it were up to me, this would have been my criteria, a blend of the following:
1) Someone who lives a lifestyle other than "sedentary"
2) Someone who is used to staying behind the radio for a long period of time - i.e a contest type of person ....OR a DXpedtion type of person.
3) Someone who doesn't mind operating solo, is accustomed to operating in less than ideal conditions, and who can improvise and adapt when necessary. To me, this just screams of SOTA, NPOTA or POTA.
It seems to me, in a situation like Puerto Rico, you just can't hand your average "Joe Ham" a Pelican case full of HF and UHF/VHF equipment with a power supply and antenna and just tell them, "go to town". Ideally, the people sent should have been (and may have been for all I know) experienced in toting their own equipment around (backpacking/hiking), and operating under adverse conditions. Small, portable but yet powerful enough radios with wire antennas, lithium batteries, foldable solar panels and associated accessories would seem to have fit the bill, entirely. But all that would do no good if the operator him or herself were not familiar with passing third party traffic or at the very least, sending information at a fast pace in a short amount of time (as in contesting or running a DXpedition pileup).
I know a lot of people get miffed about all the contests on the air on weekends (and I'm not big into contesting myself) but it IS a somewhat primitive method of preparing someone to be able to handle a Puerto Rico kind of situation. In that regard, I think that SOTA, NPOTA, POTA and DXpedition people are kind of an almost perfect mix - because if you've ever worked any of those people, they handle(d) hundreds of QSOs in a small amount of time, as rapidly and efficiently as they are able. I know that the conditions that these people usually operate under aren't nearly as stressful as what's going on throughout that island, but I think they have the best mix of capabilities and demeanor to be able to pull it off.
Of course, YMMV.
72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very elast!