Fourteen people took part in the recent five-day search and rescue training. (Photo: PROVIDED)

The Virgin Islands is a step closer to establishing a Rescue Coordination Centre after 14 members of the territory’s search-and-rescue response teams received five days of training last month.

The VI Shipping Registry engaged instructor Jean Houde — president and CEO of IAMSAR Solution, Canada — to facilitate the training from May 23-27 at the H. Lavity Stoutt Community College, ac- cording to Government Information Services.

VISR Director John Samuel said cross-agency participation has helped create a potential human resource base for responding to search and rescue needs. Mr. Samuel added that related developments will continue over the coming year with improvements in systems plans and new memorandums of understanding.

Rescue centre

The recent training, he added, is integral in the creation of a Rescue Coordination Centre, which would act as the national central point for executing and managing the territory’s maritime safety and communication obligations.

The facility is to house various modes of vessel communication, including radio and satellite systems.

Mr. Samuel also said the VI is taking steps required to bring the territory into compliance with an international standard known as the IMO III Code.

“Some elements of required improvement surround coastal state responsibilities, one of which is search and rescue,” he said. “Our systems require improvement, and we are making strides as a VI unit to improve them.”

Next training

Two VISR employees who took part in the May training — Shaamuoy Baronville and Jamil Vanterpool — are scheduled to attend SAR master training in Canada this month.

Commenting on his experience last month, Mr. Baronville said his favourite module dealt with SAR technology.

“I look forward to learning more about using the equipment to save lives,” he added.

About the upcoming training in Canada, Mr. Baronville said, “I look forward to the actual hands-on experience that can be used in developing an effective BVI Maritime Search and Rescue Plan.”

All told, nine VISR employees were trained, in addition to two officers from Her Majesty’s Customs, two officers from the Royal VI Police Force Marine Unit, and one member of the non-profit VI Search and Rescue.