St. John residents and visitors need not worry in the case of an emergency — the Virgin Islands National Park, St. John Rescue and St. John Emergency Medical Services collaborated on Sunday morning, March 4, for a rescue practice run that went off without a hitch.
Representatives from the three island agencies met up at the base of a cliff at Great Lameshur Bay, where they practiced different types of rescue, explained VINP Chief Ranger Mark Marschall.
“We set up a scenario where we had a person with a broken femur and another person with a head injury, both on the beach at the base of a cliff,” said Marschall. “We decided to rescue one person by raising them up off the cliff and one by boat, so we could practice doing both.”
The group used a VINP boat, a Virgin Islands Environmental Resource Station boat and a surf rescue kayak in the operation.
A “litter,” or a basket-like backboard, was used in combination with other tools to pull one “victim” up the cliff, explained Marschall.
“We did a rope raising using a litter, which was a particularly good challenge,” he said. “We had to start by doing a rope raising, then we carried the litter by hand another 30 to 40 yards. Once we got it off the steepest part, we clamped the litter on this big oversize wheel, and wheeled it out the rest of the way — about a mile following the old Tektike road site.”
The island agencies set up the multi-injury incident to test their resources, Marschall explained.
“We tried to combine the idea of a multi-casualty incident, because it really tests our resources,” he said. “We usually would like to practice having more than one patient and putting them in difficult situations.”
This was the first on-island emergency scenario for Mars-chall, who worked at Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks before coming to St. John.
“This was something we did quite a bit in Yosemite and Yellowstone, so this was my first chance to work with St. John Rescue and EMS on a complicated incident,” said Marschall. “I was very pleased. It was complicated and hard work, but the three agencies worked really well together as a team.”
“It was a really good test for all of us,” the chief ranger continued. “The Park Service is very happy with how it worked out.”
The VINP, St. John Rescue and St. John EMS plan to run drills three times a year at different locations and with different scenarios, according to Marschall.
The success of the emergency test-run should put St. John residents and visitors at ease.
“Don’t do anything foolish to test the system, but it is a competent rescue team,” Marschall said.