St. John Rescue Raises Donations Needed To Purchase New Jaws of Life Equipment

After months of operating with jury-rigged emergency extrication equipment, members of St. John Rescue will soon have “Jaws of Life” with some teeth in them.

“Through the generosity of several St. John residents and visitors we are now able to purchase a new set of Holmatro Extrication Tools (JAWS),” St. John Rescue’s Bob Malacarne announced in his monthly St. John Tradewinds column, To the Rescue.

Thanks to Generous Benefactors
“Thank you to all our generous benefactors,” Malacarne wrote.  “Hopefully, we will have the new emergency equipment by the end of the month.” 

“Once we have the equipment we will be able to greatly improve our ability to extricate passengers who are trapped in a crashed vehicle,” the rescue official added.

The cost of the equipment includes a day of training by an instructor provided by the manufacturer, according to Malacarne.

The volunteer rescue service severely overused its original equipment earlier this year in lengthy, challenging extrications at two mid-island fatal vehicle accidents involving two deaths and a total of seven victims.

The equipment had been put to the test in rescue efforts in January at a one-vehicle accident involving a young island driver, who was killed when he apparently fell asleep and drove off the road in the early morning hours in a small vehicle carrying four friends.

The St. John Rescue equipment was left in pieces weeks later after it was called on to extricate the driver and passenger from a crane which had slid off Route 20 in the Virgin Islands National Park trapping the driver and the fatally injured passenger in the cab during a hazardous five-hour rescue effort.

Duct tape has been holding the rescue company’s most important equipment hostage ever since as the volunteer organization has sought funds for replacement equipment.

Months of effort sought to raise funds for the purchase of a used set of the emergency equipment that was compatible with the rescue group’s old equipment and V.I. Fire Service equipment, finally paid off with enough donations to afford a new piece of equipment, according to Malacarne.

Now, the all-volunteer rescue service faces a financial future that threatens its community efforts as it seeks a new home for its equipment, training sessions and meetings.