The Can Do Spirit in Puerto Rico

Coquís, they are calling. Really, they are. Out here in San Sebastián, a hub of the western mountains, we hear the calls of these chirping miniature frogs up close and personally each night, and it’s beautiful.

In Isabela on the northern coast, where we based for the first few weeks, some said that Maria had swept them all away…so it was extra special to learn here that it wasn’t the case at all.

Operation Op Coquí Calling has had more than its share of surprises and achievements. Medical teams staged mobile clinics, and for the second straight day, conducted a medevac to the nearest hospital’s emergency room for a patient requiring immediate critical care.

In the absence of an ambulance, you get the patient to lifesaving resources yourself, and this group of volunteer professionals shows no hesitation…today a police escort even paved the way (one might say they’re paying attention to the signs when Team Rubicon moves fast).

Another team started its day with a tough challenge — improvising when the power failed but a patient in home care still badly needed respiration — and followed it up by making house calls through a mountain hamlet that even some area physicians considered off-limits. And at night, after debrief, dinner, and the cerveza flag up for social time, one of the team could be found instead at the nearby ER, practicing care in support of local staff because he felt they could use a helping hand (and he was right). It’s that kind of anything-I-can-do spirit that permeates this incredible operation.

Meanwhile, in the field a triple strike team of sawyers and ‘swampers’ cleared an utterly massive amount of damaged trees and associated debris from a lot essential to a local elementary school.

The work, estimated by the city’s municipal crew to take possibly years, was almost entirely knocked out in a day…and as a result, the school can reopen next week instead of staying indefinitely closed.

We even managed to train two new certified sawyers. We conducted a Chainsaw Operations 1 course at night and held field practice during the day. We’ve had an incredible time in San Sebastián but there is more to come, ‘todo bien’.

Written by Dan Huvane, a Marine Corps veteran who serves as a Team Rubicon volunteer.

Team Rubicon unites the skills and experiences of military veterans with first responders to rapidly deploy emergency response teams.

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