CRUZ BAY — The island’s volunteer emergency rescue organization will soon be protected by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the V.I. government and St. John Rescue drafted to authorize the volunteer rescue organization to transport deceased residents to the V.I. Medical Examiner on St. Thomas for the government.
St. John Rescue had stepped forward in recent years to provide the service after the island’s last official transport service ended with the long-time government employee’s retirement, but concerns over liability questions forced the private organization to stop providing the service until they had the legal protection of the V.I. government.
St. John Senator at Large Almando “Rocky” Liburd has been working with the V.I. Justice Department over the last few weeks to find a solution. Sen. Liburd hzs decried the fact that a St. John family was forced to transport the body of a deceased loved one to St. Thomas in a private vehicle.
“We all know of that recent sad situation where a family had to transport their deceased loved one (to St. Thomas on the barge in their own car) — that should never happen,” Sen. Liburd said at a mid-April public hearing. “The good news is that I spoke to the Attorney General at length again today and she has assured me that this will be resolved by noon tomorrow.”
Agreement Soon Come
This news brought applause from the audience and an expectant thank you from St. John Rescue’s Bob Malacarne.
“We don’t expect anything until after (St. Thomas) carnival,” St. John Rescue’s Bob Malacarne acknowledged over the weekend.
“Senator Liburd has been an absolute treasure for us,” Malacarne said. “He has rescued St. John Rescue a number of times.”
St. John Rescue performed at least equivalent services as similar organizations on St. Thomas and St. Croix, yet only received a third of the Government funding, Malacarne pointed out.
Fund Still Short for Jaws of Life
Sen. Liburd also has pledged to continue to work to help St. John Rescue, which he considers a vital organization and has been working to identify money for new “Jaws of Life” equipment.
The rescue group has located used equipment which is compatible with V.I. Fire Service equipment to replace the organizations old equipment which has been damaged by heavy use in recent incidents, according to Malacarne. Donations are coming in slowly, he acknowledged
“We’re still waiting; we’re getting it in dribs and drabs,” Malacarne said. “We stil need a couple of thousand dollars.”
Less Expensive Rent Sought
Next, the non-profit agency is seeking to lower its overhead by finding new headquarters for the organization’s meetings and training sessions. The Pastory headquarters of St. John Rescue on Centerline Road are convenient but too expensive, Malacarne admitted.