The British Virgin Islands will finally have its official government-run sea ambulance, Premier and Minister for Finance Hon. Andrew Fahie has announced.
He said during the House of Assembly sitting on Thursday, April 22, that the move has been long in coming.
“The Virgin Islands
Shipping Registry (VISR) is now in possession of the boat that was purchased a few years ago, and it was turned over to [Ministry of] Health, but it really was bought for VISR,” he said.
The Premier explained that turning over the vessel to the Ministry of Health was for it to be transformed into an ambulance boat, which already had the capability to handle a multiplicity of areas like fire and rescue and sea, health emergencies and the like.
“Through the cooperation of the Premier’s Office, the VISR and the Ministry of Health, we have now this boat which will put the VISR to be once fully repaired to be right on track to be government’s official search and rescue team.”
This, he explained, would allow Memorandum of Understandings to be signed “from governments to governments and with no offence, not from the government to a private entity because it leaves the liability with government anyway, but we do cherish the work of all private entities that help us in that area.”
He added: “it was time for us as a territory to move in this direction.”
Presently, and since 1988, the non-profit, non-governmental organization, the Virgin Islands
Search and Rescue (VISAR), has been serving as the sole sea ambulance in the territory.
There have been talks for many years about Government securing a sea ambulance for medical emergencies. The vessel, Vigilant II, which was secured by Government some years ago was earmarked to be used. but the boat was plagued by issues, including costly repairs soon after purchase and plans were initially announced for it to be used by VISR.