VISAR – Virgin Island Search And Rescue

Posted on June 14, 2018


The scream came suddenly. The high pitched shrill echoed through the boat.

“Aghhhhhhhhhh…..CURTIS!!!! Someone help him. Currrrtis, are you ok?”. Followed by hysterical crying.

We’d just returned from diving and had taken our ocean showers. All of us rushed to the top deck and peered anxiously through one of the small hatches leading to the cabins. There sprawled out on the floor, face down, bleeding was a senior member of staff face. He was unresponsive.

Quick reaction from our Aussie trainee meant he got into the room to assess him. He took a decision to move his legs to enter the room, even though we were concerned about a possible spinal injury.

Was this a simulated scenario? Was this real? It took a few minutes but the tomato salsa used as fake blood gave it away.

“Is that green pepper in the blood?” asked one of the younger trainees. Yes is was. This was a drill but it was made to feel as realistic as possible.

The head wound had pressure applied and a bandage held against it. Airways were checked. Emergency oxygen was administered. I took notes with times. Pulse rate, breathing, state of patient. Unconscious but with weak breathing.

Our captain shouted “Has VISAR been called? Do it! You have to actually radio them.”

We radioed for Virgin Island Search And Rescue (VISAR). Within twenty minutes their staff were bouncing hard and fast on their RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) over the waves to us.

Some of the other trainees comforted the staff acting in shock. Distracting them and wrapping them in blankets and trying to get their minds off the situation at hand.

Sail Caribbean (SC) takes safety very seriously and these drills are great practise for VISAR staff training as well as SC training new staff members on induction week.

After they boarded our vessel I relayed all the necessary information to the emergency services. Curtis was bandaged up. His head wound stabilised. He was lifted through the narrow salon and onto a stretcher still unresponsive, eyes still closed. Great role play acting by him.

“Can you give me an update on his condition please?” I asked on VISAR staff member.

“Sure,” she said kindly. “His blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen have all been checked and are stable.”

“Where are you taking him?” I pressed.

“Roads Reef which is our base and then an ambulance will collect him.”

“How will we be able to get updates?” I continued.

“Our coordinator will call you,”she said walking up to their RIB.

“Do you have a name?” I called out.

Within forty five minutes we had completed a simulated drill of a serious accident.

Teenagers come with hazards and it’s important that everyone working closely with them knows how to handle all incidents.

A quick debrief and an opportunity to ride their high speed power RIB ended our hectic day. We’d already docked twice, dived and snorkelled and now this.

Dinner would be late tonight…..