Nevada Guardsmen join Puerto Rico relief efforts

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CARSON CITY, Nev. (KOLO) News coverage of the devastation in Puerto Rico shows an island of more than 3 million American citizens nearly a week after Hurricane Maria without power and without clean water, to a large extent still cut off from the rest of the country, still waiting for help.

Six Nevada National Guardsmen have been watching with the rest of us and in a few days they'll be there, making a difference.

The equipment they were checking out Wednesday afternoon at their Carson City base is going with them. The Joint Incident Site Communications Capability package, or JISCC, is described by some as a big self-contained wi-fi hot spot, and that's not far off.

Once set up, it will help establish communications, not only putting residents on the island in touch with the mainland, but helping coordinate first responder communications there.

"We can crossband all the emergency responders' radios into one frequency," says Sgt. 1st Class Ron Segraves.. "So everybody's talking on the same channel. And so we can really coordinate efforts between emergency responders out there."

The call came quickly and the six who are going have had little time to get ready, but then that's part of the Guard's mission.

"This is a deployable, on-a-moment's-notice thing that we have to do. There's not a lot of prep time. I was notified on Tuesday that it was going. It's now Wednesday rolling into Thursday and deploy on Friday."

Those who are going are full-time employees here. They won't be putting civilian careers on hold. They will be leaving families.

E-4 Specialist William Isbister isn't even part of the JISCC team, but he volunteered.

"It's kind of what we enlist for. We want to either go overseas and help protect our freedoms or in the National Guard when things kind of pop off at home. We can jump in at a moment's notice and do good things here at home."

The deployment is currently set at 30 days and it will be no luxury mission.

They've been told to expect temperatures in the 90s with a lot of standing water breeding mosquitoes.

They're expected to be self-sufficient, with shelter, food and water for at least the first week.