A faster means to transport sick and injured persons from the sister islands is closer to becoming a reality now that the BVI Health Services Authority (BVIHSA) has put out a Request for Information (RFI) for the service of an ambulance boat.

The need for the ambulance boat was stressed heavily during the VIP 2007-2011 administration. However, the need was almost insisted on 2011 when it was announced that sick and injured persons were made to wait in agony at the ferry dock on the sister island until the regularly scheduled ferry arrives.

It was announced this month that the BVIHSA is desirous of maintaining the ambulance boat service and to this furtherance published an RFI emphasizing that the service is necessary in order to provide a reliable and efficient medical transportation service to transfer patients from Virgin Gorda to Tortola and/or from Jost Van Dyke to Tortola for medical care.

According to the BVIHSA  the ambulance service is required to be operative 24 hours a day, seven days a week; and the Health Authority said that it is inviting relevant service providers to state their interest in providing the service by 16 October.

It was also mentioned that the Request is mainly for information and planning purposes; and is not to be mistaken for a Request for Proposal (RFP) or Request for Quote (RFQ), or a promise to issue an RFP or RFQ. “The RFI does not commit the BVIHSA to contract for any supply or service.”

As it relates to the vessel being sought, the British Virgin Islands Health Services Authority said the vessel should be a Catamaran with outboard diesel engines capable of traveling at 35-40knots. It is expected to have a minimum diesel fuel tank 20 Gallons and gas 120 Gallons; plus have radio navigational aids (ADF) Satellite Global Navigational System, including navigational radar, light compass, radio equipment for water navigation. It was stated that the vessel should also have a deck that consists of hand and grab rails, hull access hatches, 360 degree beacon warning lights, a horn, as well as a cabin that is covered, insulated and paneled for the patient and personnel.

Similarly, the vessel is required to have secured seating for personnel accompanying the patient, be air conditioned, have a fire extinguisher, carbon monoxide detector, gas fume detector, and smoke detector; have a DC system with minimum of 12V. and power efficient generator.

Need For Ambulance Boat stressed

Back in 2011 former Ninth District Representative, Dr. Hubert O’Neal announced he personally witnessed sick persons being made to wait at the Virgin Gorda Ferry Dock for the regular Ferry to take them to Tortola to receive the proper medical attention they needed.

The announcement confirmed that the Ninth District was without medical transportation. In stressing the need for the vessel O’Neal said: “There were actually three incidences here today: one was a pregnant lady, one was a casualty and injury, one was an illness…Three individuals who were actually waiting to be transported to Peebles Hospital today. They had to sit here and wait for the regular ferry at 11:30 this morning.”

O’Neal hinted that the issue is not a new one and explained that he had campaigned on the matter before.

Nonetheless, O’Neal stated that the vision is to develop an efficient Air Ambulance service to get the sick and injured to Tortola as quickly as possible: “This is how we save lives! Too many of us have perished because of the want of just having that service: so that is something that we are going to do. In fact that is going to be number one priority,” he declared.