St. John Rescue members are ready and willing to transport deceased residents and visitors to the island morgue facility at the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center for transport by officials of the Coroner’s Office to St. Thomas.
They just aren’t able.
After months of negotiations with government officials, the private non-profit emergency services group is still trying to work out legal and liability issues involved with transporting deceased accident or crime victims or those who have died of natural causes at home on St. John to the health department facility for safekeeping until they can be transported to St. Thomas.
“They have protocols ready for us,” St. John Rescue president Andy Vacharat said of negotiations between the private non-profit St. John Rescue and numerous government agencies over the issue. “There are so many agencies involved it’s going to take some time.”
In the interim, on the heels of horror stories including one September incident in which a drowning victim was left on a V.I. National Park beach for hours until VINP law enforcement officers brought representatives of the Coroner’s Office from St. Thomas by National Park Service boat to transport the body to the morgue on St. Thomas, St. John rescue officials are still working on a permanent solution.
“They have EMS to take charge of transports… as far as I understand,” Vacharat said tentatively of the interim solution.
St. John Rescue has not given up on finding a permanent solution to the dilemma, Vacharat said.
“If Rescue is not able to do it, for whatever reason, we have spoken about forming a separate entity,” Vacharat explained. “We’re looking into doing it on our own.”
Vacharat can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.