March 10, 2004 – The free-standing concrete shelter next to the Fire Service facility in Coral Bay once hosted a mobile health clinic and a mobile post office. For a brief while it was home to a mysterious stranger in a wheelchair. Local mechanics have found it an ideal place for shade tree auto repair, minus the shade tree.
Now it has a new life, as the home of Rescue Two.
Rescue Two is a part of St. John Rescue, the all-volunteer service that provides assistance in times of emergency. Earlier this week, a blue and white van appeared under the portico next to the fire station. According to Mike Jordan, the St. John Rescue coordinator for the part of the island east of Bordeaux, its presence signals a new level of service for the community's residents.
"With the presence of the Rescue Two vehicle — which is the old ambulance out here in Coral Bay — we can respond quickly and directly to people's needs and help them get quicker medical attention," Jordan said, comparing that with people having to wait for an ambulance "to come all the way out from Cruz Bay."
For years, the only emergency service available in Coral Bay has come from the Romeo Company Fire Station, which responds to fires, assists in rescue and recovery, and also has served as a community first aid station. In the mid 1990s, the Fire Service began implementing First Responder training for selected personnel, providing them the expertise to respond to medical emergencies.
From Coral Bay, the nearest medical facility is the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center, six miles away in Gifft Hill. St. John's Emergency Medical Service station is two miles east of that, in Cruz Bay.
A temporary agreement to allow Rescue Two to house its unit in the concrete portico was reached at the Feb 25 Port Authority meeting. VIPA spokeswoman Monifa Marrero described the agreement as a "parking permit" and said it will expire after one year. "It's just a temporary permit; that's all they requested," she said on Wednesday.
Marrero declined to say whether a permanent agreement is under consideration by either St. John Rescue or the Port Authority.
Over the next few days, volunteers with the rescue group plan to paint the portico. A dedication ceremony will be held, Jordan said, at a date to be announced.
Setting up a volunteer rescue unit to serve the people of Coral Bay is just one of the latest developments for the St. John organization founded by the late Anibal "Chickie" Morciglio after Hurricane Marilyn struck in 1995. Fifteen members of the group recently underwent First Responder training to assist in sudden medical crises such as heart attacks and in handling motor vehicle accidents.
The six volunteers on the Coral Bay team already have put some of that training to use, Jordan said. Rescue Two has been called to the scene of at least one vehicle accident and aided some of the runners in last month's "8 Tuff Miles" mini-marathon run from Cruz Bay to Coral Bay.
"As a matter of fact, we've responded to three or four different incidents," Jordan said on Tuesday. But the unit "came out a couple of weeks ago, and it's actually — officially — in operation."
He said the team members are "excited about painting the portico and making it the permanent home of St. John Rescue."
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