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 our 767 emergency hotline and manage the response to an Incident.  They connect the casualty with the rescue vessel and any supporting resources that can assist (auxiliary vessels, US Coast Guard, Ambulance, Hospital and Clinics). Duty Coordinators maintain 2 dedicated VISAR Phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

HELM

The rescue vessel cannot launch without a Helm. More than just the driver, a Helm is responsible for the safety of the VISAR Lifeboat and its Crew at all times of action.

NUMBER 2

The #2 is responsible for communications, navigation and vessel equipment readiness. A #2 has natural leadership skills: helping the Helm, Medic & Crew work together at peak efficiency whilst also keeping the Coordinator appraised of the situation.

MEDIC

The Lead Medic is responsible for the medical care given to the Casualty. They are typically the Responder on board with the highest level of Certification.

CREW

The Crew are supporting the preceding positions of our Responder team. Strong knowledge of equipment and SHOUT procedures is vital and is gone over in detail during crew training.

TRAINEE

Trainees are active volunteers who are purposefully engaged in Meetings and Training to prepare for Shouts… to ultimately become a VISAR Responder.

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 in Road Reef Marina, Tortola and the second in 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 (known as a shout) the vessel is manned by a Helm, a #2, a Medic and up to an additional three Crew members. Each boat can take a maximum of two casualties on backboards and either one family member or the doctor/nurse treating the casualty on scene.

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board of directors & staff

Gerard Krakkman

Gerard Krakkman

President

Lars Giersing

Lars Giersing

Vice President

Sarah Lynch

Sarah Lynch

Secretary

Melisande Rowe

Melisande Rowe

Treasurer

Kate Mullan

Kate Mullan

Public Relations

Mike Hallett

Mike Hallett

Tortola Action Representative

Matt Holt

Matt Holt

Tortola Crew Representative

Steve Elleffon

Steve Elleffon

Virgin Gorda Crew Representative

Julie Schneider

Julie Schneider

Executive Creative Director

Phil Aspinall, MBE

Phil Aspinall, MBE

Operations Manager

Carine Locher

Carine Locher

Executive Administrator

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