St. John Rescue Seeks New Rescue Vehicle; Cargobody Model Chosen

One of St. John Rescue’s rescue vehicles is no longer reliable, and the organization is looking into a purchasing a Cargobody reusable truck body to take its place. St. John Rescue, which was incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1996, provides backup on St. John to the V.I. Police Department, V.I. Fire Department and EMS ambulance service.

The rescue organization currently has two vehicles, Rescue One and Rescue Two. Rescue One, a custom built equipment vehicle featuring jaws of life and light booms for illuminating large areas at night among other tools, was purchased in 2002 with grants and donations.

Rescue Two Needs To Go
Rescue Two, a 1984 Ford ambulance, was “rescued” from the V.I. government’s salvage yard and put into service in 2003.

“It is “operational but I wouldn’t trust it,” said John Bowman, chief of St. John Rescue.

“We don’t take it out unless we know we’re going to have to use it,” said Bowman. “We’ve been band-aiding it ever since we got it.”

Rescue Two, which is used for transportation of patients, is positioned in Coral Bay where it can take up to 45 minutes for the St. John EMS service to respond from Cruz Bay.

The organization has chosen a Cargobody design to replace Rescue Two. The Cargobody model is a slip-on, fully transferable and reusable truck body designed to outlast its “host vehicle,” according to literature from the Cargobody company.

When the Cargobody is removed from the host vehicle, the truck will show no “telltale signs from the Cargobody’s use,” the statement continues.

$90,000 Projected Cost
The cost of the new rescue vehicle is estimated at just under $90,000, said Bowman.

In the absence of a working patient transport vehicle, St. John Rescue members have resorted to transporting patients in their personal vehicles, said Bowman.

“Several of us have done that before,” said the rescue chief. “If that’s the only option we have, that’s what we do.” The Cargobody model would provide St. John Rescue with a reliable mode of patient transport, and could be affixed to a four wheel drive vehicle to navigate the island’s rough terrain.

“This approach has been used in several rural rescue/fire departments with great success,” according to a St. John Rescue written statement. “This medical transport shell will be housed on a Ford 250 Cuddy Cab or similar vehicle and will be housed where Rescue Two is in Coral Bay.”

Donations Needed
Funds are still being solicited from the St. John community to purchase the new rescue vehicle.

“As soon as we get enough funds squared away, we’re going to put the order in,” said Bowman.

The St. John Rotary’s Flavors event was a major fundraiser for St. John Rescue, but funds from this event will not be totaled until early next year, according to Flavors chairman John Fuller.

Based on a grant program through Rotary International, St. John Rotary could bring in three times as much money that was raised at the dinner by receiving matching funds from a Rotary club in the states and Rotary International.

“We’re going for matching funds,” said Fuller. “If we raised $30,000, we’d hope to parlay that into $90,000 – we don’t know yet.”

Approximately 300 tickets were sold for the event at the Westin St. John Resort and Villas for $100 apiece, according to organizers.

“It was wonderful,” said Bowman, who proudly displayed Rescue One and its equipment at Flavors. “I thought it was great – I had a blast.”

Anyone who is interested in donating to the organization or would like to become a member of St. John Rescue can call John Bowman at 643-3831 or visit