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.
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.
• Two AEDs [Automatic Emergency Defibrillator]
• Back-board and straps
• Two oxygen cylinders
• Blood pressure cuff
• CPR masks
• Eye wash
• Ventolin Inhaler
• SAM Splints
• Vacuum Splints
• Traction splint kit
• KED [Kendrick Extrication Device]
• Cervical Collars
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.
President & Incident Command Officer
Vice President & Liaison Officer
Secretary & Compliance Officer
Treasurer & Finance Officer
Public Information Officer
Maritime & Logistics Officer
Tortola Volunteer or People & Planning Officer
Virgin Gorda Volunteer or People & Planning Officer
Medical Safety Officer
Our donation to VISAR will never be enough to thank them for their continued dedication and efforts. We are fortunate to be able to support this organization and their volunteers for keeping everyone, including our customers, safe at sea.
MarineMax Vacations is thankful to have a longstanding relationship with VISAR and donates annually to this brave and dedicated organization.
Raul Bermudez, vice president of MarineMax Vacations British Virgin Islands
During a dive at the RMS Rhone, one of my Sergeant’s experienced a medical emergency at a depth of about 50 feet…A crew of three VISAR volunteers responded to the scene within about 20 minutes of the phone call. The crew was extremely professional, knowledgeable, and reassuring. Thankfully, Sergeant Henderson made a quick recovery and further treatment was not necessary.
From one group of first responders to another, I would like to thank the volunteers who responded that day for their time, effort and dedication to public service
I truly owe your team my life. I don’t even know how to begin to thank you for giving me a second chance at life. What an amazingly special group of men and women you all are, I wish I could explain how thankful and grateful I am that you came to my rescue, but I will find a way to thank you properly. You are all such special people and you will always have a big place in our hearts. Thank you, thank you, thank youAmy British Virgin Islands
On February 1, 2017, while on a cruise, I went on a dive excursion. It started out fine, but soon into the dive, I began to experience difficulty in breathing due to a chest cold. I told the dive master I needed to ascend and proceeded to the surface. The next thing I remember was regaining consciousness in the Peebles Hospital ER. I wasn’t aware of anything going on at the time, of course, but I have since learned that from the time the distress call came into VISAR’s base at 10:45 am, 38 minutes later, I was at Peebles Hospital. WOW!! Especially in my case, why is this such a big deal? During my four days in ICU, I was told that when I arrived at the ER, my organs had begun to shut down. The doctor’s comment was actually “it was critical that you got here so fast”. I started to ask what she meant, but then stopped because I realized the answer. I truly owe my life to VISAR and will financially support it for the rest of my life.Jack Erb Texas, USA