Although Emergency Medical Services on St. John consists of just one operational ambulance and a total of seven EMTs, EMS is prepared for the influx of people the island has seen during this year’s tourist season.
V.I. Department of Health spokesperson Eunice Bedmin-ster admitted St. John EMS is low on resources.
“There are seven EMTs — two medics are on a 24-hour shift and a third is used on overtime,” said Bedminster. “St. John needs another six medics according to District EMS Supervisor Alex Williams.”
There are two ambulances on St. John, both stationed in Cruz Bay, although only one is operational.
“There are two ambulances on St. John with one currently operational,” said Bedminster. “The second is currently being repaired for a short in the system.”
Newest Ambulances of Territory's Fleet
The two ambulances, which St. John has had for nine and seven years, respectively, are among the newest in the territory, according to Bedminster.
“The ambulances are among the newest in our fleet territorywide,” she said. “One was purchased in 1999 and the other in 2001 and both are in excellent condition, except for routine wear and tear which necessitates maintenance tune-ups. In fiscal year 2008, the 1999 ambulance is scheduled to be replaced with a new one.”
Due to recent population growth in Coral Bay, EMS plans to expand its services to the town, explained Bedminster.
“EMS is researching the possibility of opening an EMS station in Coral Bay, and this is largely due to an increase in the population and increase in calls,” said the DOH spokesperson. “There-fore, we have requested a third ambulance for the Coral Bay area once that station is established. I do not know when, but DOH has plans to establish one.”
Need for More EMTs
The Department of Health also hopes to add more EMTs to its St. John staff, which is difficult due to the required training, explained Bedminster.
“There is need for more medics to staff the ambulances, but note that unlike other jobs, EMS positions are usually hard to fill because EMTs must be certified in order to get such jobs,” she said. “Thus, we may have vacancies available but no one to fill them since potential applicants must pass a certification test from the Ohio-based National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians as a pre-requisite to employment.”
St. John residents and visitors should be aware that calling 911 is the best way to reach the EMS station, and visitors need to be able to provide directions to their villa in the event of an emergency, according to Bedminster.
EMS Prepared for Season
“The procedure of all EMS response is to call 911,” said the DOH spokesperson. “The 911 center will forward the call to EMS. The caller will be questioned as to the location, direction, phone number calling from and the nature of the call.”
St. John EMS works with other island agencies when responding to calls at locations that require travel on steep or unpaved roads, explained Bedminster.
“The St. John EMS personnel work in tandem with other groups such as St. John Rescue or the Virgin Islands Police Department in such events,” she said.
Even with its minimal staff and one ambulance, St. John EMS is prepared to serve island residents and visitors alike, according to Bedminster.
“The EMS Division could always use more employees and more funding, but we were ready for the tourist season with the staff we have,” she said.