“The way loss of life is dealt with currently can be described as inhumane and crass.”
This is according to a report dated January 3, 2023, titled ‘Medical and Emergency Response on the Sister Islands’ and prepared by the Sister Islands Unit in the Office of the Deputy Governor
Among those interviewed in 2022 for the Report obtained by our news centre were Departments, units, and organisations, including the District Officers on each main sister island, Supervisors of Fire and Rescue Department on each sister island, Representatives from the Royal Virgin Islands Police Force, Representatives from Health Services Authority, Business owners – Hospitality-based, VISAR and community members.
According to VISAR, under the topic, Protocol for Loss of Life, the way loss of life is dealt with currently can be described as inhumane and crass.
“Family members are not informed in a timely manner of the process and what one can expect. In addition, sometimes the time it takes for forensics to arrive on each sister island can take hours.
“Each step of this process should be fine-tuned and expedited to mitigate the saddening experience families are dealing with,” VISAR recommended.
According to the Sister Islands Report,
Virgin Islands Search & Rescue (VISAR) has been used for medical
evacuation from the Sister Islands on several occasions, although there
has been no agreement or written protocol to establish this. It said
VISAR is called for several types of emergencies and has recently been
called for medical evacuation on Anegada.
Medical evacuation must be given priority- Report
The need for an ambulance boat was also highlighted in the Report.
Currently, according to the Report, there is a written agreement between a vessel owner and BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) to transport patients from Virgin Gorda to Beef Island for Medical Evacuation.
It said VISAR has also been used for this purpose on several occasions; there has been no agreement or written protocol to establish this. However, VISAR is called for several types of emergencies and has recently been called for medical evacuation on Anegada.
According to the Report, currently, there are no established protocols for medical evacuation on Jost van Dyke or Anegada. “There is however a written agreement with a vessel owner on Virgin Gorda, but this needs to be fine-tuned. This process needs to be improved then mirrored on each sister island.”
The Report recommended that a sufficient ambulance boat that can service all sister islands should be budgeted for in the 2024 budget.
“This boat should be fully-medically equipped and staffed with trained emergency medical technicians able to manage any challenges that are encountered during transfer,” the Report stated.
The Sister Islands Unit Report concluded that healthcare and emergency response on the Sister Islands must be improved to enhance the overall quality of life on the islands and that priority must be given to the establishment of a medical evacuation process on each island.
It said this should not only be taken into consideration for mass events and activities but should be in place for residents on a daily basis.