There are still a few openings available in the coming weeks for St. John residents who want to get trained in CPR and first aid.
St. John Rescue will be offering CPR training on Saturday, May 7, and Sunday, June 12, and first aid training on Saturday, May 14, and Sunday, June 26. There is no charge for the courses, but donations are appreciated, according to Bob Malacarne, president of St. John Rescue.
The Red Cross certified classes are held from 9 a.m. till 12:30 p.m. at St. John Rescue’s Gifft Hill headquarters. For further information, call 340-693-RESQ (7377).
Malacarne said the organization is fulfilling its mission to provide vital services to the community. This week, they’ll be training 16 employees at Cinnamon Bay Campground, and throughout the month, they’re providing backup for emergencies that might occur during training swims and the annual Beach to Beach Power Swim held Sunday, May 29.
“Our old boat is back in service and tied up at the National Park dock in Cruz Bay,” said Malacarne. Although the territory does have an ambulance boat to transport patients to St. Thomas, it does not have a rescue boat for use on St. John. The National Park Service has boats, but their use is limited to park waters because of staffing issues. “St. John Rescue is here to take up the slack,” Malacarne said.
Malacarne said the organization is now raising funds to buy as many as 10 oxygen concentrators – portable devices for people who are dependent on oxygen.
“They’re used by people who need to get out but have difficulty bringing an oxygen tank with them,” he said. “Oxygen concentrators are much lighter and can be carried in a sling. They’re very common in the states, but I rarely see them here.”
Malacarne speculated that their cost – between $2,000 and $3,000 – is one of the reasons for their scarcity. St. John Rescue would loan the devices to anyone in need.
St. John Rescue is now trying to determine exactly how many people on St. John depend on oxygen. Jackie Parsons Browne, community liaison for the organization, recently met with the local chapter of AARP to gather this information as part of a senior wellness workshop.
St. John Rescue owns its own oxygen generator and fills oxygen tanks as a community service to residents and visitors who depend on oxygen, as well as to first responder organizations such as V.I. Fire Service and the National Park Service.
To help raise funds, St. John plumber Tom McQuade recently donated nearly 50 cases of his hand-tied fishing flies to St. John Rescue in the hope that the nonprofit organization could sell them. “They’re in beautiful, wooden cases with hinged-glass fronts,” said Malacarne. “We’re hoping we can sell them, but we need help getting the word out.”
Meanwhile, volunteers continue to help the organization in various ways. St. John resident David Queeley, assisted by homeowners Catherine and Rich Quade, has built a stone wall to mark an entrance and exit to the headquarters, and Coral Bay residents are providing dinner to organization members on Thursday prior to their monthly meeting.