A faster means to transport sick and injured persons from the sister island of Virgin Gorda is still part of the outer island health care plan and Minister for Health and Social Development Hon. Ronnie Skelton announced that he is still interested in securing an ambulance boat.
The idea of an ambulance boat dates back many years and the Minister said that it is still seen as a key feature to ensuring that the sister island residents are catered to and provided for in the event of medical emergencies.
The plan for ambulance boat was mentioned again by the Minister during the New Nurse Iris O’Neal Medical Centre Pledge programme that was held on Friday, 26 October. During his address the Minister said: “There is a plan to get an ambulance boat to bring people from Virgin Gorda to Tortola.”
During the ground breaking for the Nurse Iris O’Neal clinic on 30 March 2015 Hon. Skelton also mentioned the need for the ambulance boat. He said: “We have heard the cries of nurses, emergency responders, patients and their families about the challenges endured because of the absence of a reliable mode of medical transportation. Our long-term vision is to one day commission a purpose-built ambulance boat and helicopter service for medical evacuations.”
During that announcement, Hon. Skelton mentioned that repairs were completed on the Motor Vessel Vigilant II, which the Minister explained was going to be used for emergency medical transfers from Virgin Gorda to Tortola.
“The vessel required more extensive repairs than we realised when it was first handed over to us, and the repair work took a lot longer than expected. The boat is now sea-worthy, and we are making final arrangements to hire a captain and crew to operate it in partnership with the Fire and Rescue Services Department,” Hon. Skelton noted.
During the NDP Radio Program on 3 November, 2014 the Minister stated that the vessel which was purchased during the previous NDP Administration is outfitted, and able to transfer patients on stretchers.