About | VISAR
Marine Emergency Dial +1 (284) 499 0911

history

In 1988, a team of advisors from the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office was sent out to the British Virgin Islands to make development recommendations to the Government of the Virgin Islands. One recommendation was for the Government to invite the group of people running the informal search and rescue service to create an “autonomous, para-professional, dedicated volunteer maritime search and rescue.” At the request of the Government, VISAR became an official Non-Profit Organization (NPO) and was modelled on the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI),the world’s oldest lifeboat service.  Like the RNLI, and many other lifeboat services, it is an independent, volunteer-based organization funded by charitable donations and grants.

Today, VISAR is the official search and rescue service in the British Virgin Islands, providing 24 hour cover every day of the year, in close co-operation with the Royal British Virgin Islands police, fire, and ambulance services. VISAR works closely with the United States Coastguard and is internationally recognized by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) as a full member.

Since its formation, VISAR has carried out over 1,600 search and rescue missions.  Since 2014, we have launched our rescue vessels over 400 times and spent over 500 hours responding to marine emergencies.  Our fully trained volunteer crew, trainees and coordinators have given over 22,000 hours of their personal time to train, attend meetings and dedicate themselves to VISAR’s mission of “Saving Lives at Sea.” With the significant growth in charter yachting and boating in the BVI, the demand for VISAR’s service is growing annually and the organisation is keeping pace by working to upgrade its boats and equipment, as well as raising levels of crew training.

crew training & Positions

Search and Rescue can be a difficult and dangerous job, and it requires regular training and sincere dedication. Many of our volunteers do not come from a marine background, so we have to provide first-class training to make sure our crews have the skills they need to save lives.

Join Our Crew

COORDINATOR

Coordinators field all calls to VISAR’s emergency number 767, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The On-Duty Coordinator responds to all details of an Incident. They connect the casualty with the rescue vessel and any other resources that can assist, such as auxiliary vessels, US Coast Guard, Ambulance, Hospital, and Clinics). Duty Coordinators maintain two dedicated VISAR Phones at all times.

HELM

The rescue vessel cannot launch without a Helm. A Helm is more than just the captain of the rescue vessel, he/she is responsible for the safety of the casualty, the rescue team, and the rescue vessel at all times of action.

NUMBER 2

The #2 is responsible for communications, navigation, and the rescue vessel’s equipment readiness. A #2 is the liaison between the on-duty coordinator, the Helm, and the rescue team. Leadership skills are a #2’s virtue of working together with the team at peak efficiency.

MEDIC

The Lead Medic is responsible for the medical care given to the Casualty. They typically are the Emergency First Responders (EFR’s) onboard the rescue vessel, with the highest level of certification.

CREW

The Crew is supporting the preceding positions of our EFR team. Sound knowledge of the rescue vessel’s equipment and Emergency Call (aka SHOUT) procedures is vital. Each Crew member is thoroughly trained and kept up-to-date at all times.

TRAINEE

Active volunteers in training to become fully-fledged crew members. Training can take six months to a year to fully understand all levels of being a crew member. During the training period, they purposefully support crew members, attend meetings, and assist in preparing when a SHOUT is active.

our gear

On board Medical Equipment

• Two AEDs [Automatic Emergency Defibrillator]
• Back-board and straps
• Two oxygen cylinders
• Blood pressure cuff
• CPR masks
• Stethoscope
• Pulseoxymeter
• Glucometer
• Eye wash
• Epipen
• Glucose
• Ventolin Inhaler
• SAM Splints
• Vacuum Splints
• Traction splint kit
• KED [Kendrick Extrication Device]
• Cervical Collars

Vessel Safety Equipment
• Search lights
• Two spare fuel caddies
• Life jackets for use by casualties
• Spare parts and tools in case of breakdown
• Capsize lights
• CO2 self-righting bad on the radar arch of the stern
Search and Rescue Equipment and Communications
• Raymarine C120 I w GPS and Chart plotter
• Water proof cellular phone
• Satellite phone
• Tablet with internet connection to send updates on casualties
• Two Commandmic VHF’s
• Two Handheld VHF’sxtrication Device

Rescue Boats

VISAR has two base stations; one at Road Reef Marina, Tortola, and the second at Virgin Gorda Yacht Harbour. Tortola has a 32-foot Parker 1000 Baltic RIB, powered by twin 300 hp outboard engines. On station in Virgin Gorda is a 28-foot TP Marine RIB, powered by twin 225 hp outboard engines.

When out on an active emergency call (AKA SHOUT), the rescue vessel is operated by a Helm, a #2, a Medic, and up to three Crew members. Each rescue vessel can take a maximum of two casualties on backboards and either one family member or the doctor/nurse treating the casualty on scene.

Click here to get involved or to make a donation!

board of directors & staff

Gerard Kraakman

Gerard Kraakman

President & Incident Command Officer

Lars Giersing

Lars Giersing

Vice President & Liaison Officer

Elizabeth Killeen

Elizabeth Killeen

Secretary & Compliance Officer

Lizanne Havenga

Lizanne Havenga

Treasurer & Finance Officer

Kate Mullan

Kate Mullan

Public Information Officer

Mike Hallett

Mike Hallett

Maritime & Logistics Officer

Matt Holt

Matt Holt

Tortola Volunteer or People & Planning Officer

Josephine Giersing

Josephine Giersing

Virgin Gorda Volunteer or People & Planning Officer

Christopher "Kit" Arton

Christopher "Kit" Arton

Medical Safety Officer

Phil Aspinall, MBE

Phil Aspinall, MBE

Operations Manager

Carine Locher

Carine Locher

Executive Administrator

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