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Jol Byerley’s Feb 09 Letter from Antigua

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English Harbour’s New Emergency Response Vehicle

Ever since Nelson’s old naval dockyard became a haven for yachts and yachtsmen, we have not really known what to do with any medical emergencies that may crop up. Hospitals are a good thirty minutes away and getting doctors out to the southern end of Antigua was not what you may call easy.

Suddenly, our worries are a thing of the past. Through the good offices of our old friend John Gill (that is he of Land Rover cars here in Antigua), a brand new Land Rover Discovery 3 arrived on our door step. It was already kitted out as an ambulance and was, if you can believe, already painted with red and blue squares so that it couldn’t be mistaken for anything else such as an overgrown Christmas cake.

Only a short while ago we actually had one of these vehicles and goodness me, they were really fun to drive. But we swapped it for a much smaller diesel powered Land Rover Freelander 2 which we could, believe it or not, actually park in the city of St John’s. Now ABSAR (Antigua Barbuda Search and Rescue) has actually answered in the last year over 107 medical calls, 30 requests for search and rescue, five Helicopter medivacs and two helicopter aerial searches—all, we are glad to say, without loss of life. I should say that this team work is essential in providing successful search and rescue.

Anyway, John Gill with the help of the Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Harold Lovell, was able to wave the duty and CST. Caribbean Alliance Insurance provided discounted insurance. Also working with ABSAR is the Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in Martinique, and currently a number of ABSAR volunteers are undergoing training for First Aid First Responder. This is basically an in-depth 80 hour First Aid course which includes training in Ambulance operations.

This vehicle will be used to provide emergency medical assistance both to yachtsmen and to the English Harbour and Falmouth Harbour Community. ABSAR also has a Paramedic on call 24/7.  They will not charge for this service, however they will solicit donations and put on fund raisers in order to offset the cost. If you want to volunteer for service or just to find out what ABSAR is doing, ask for Jonathan Cornelius at the Antigua Yacht Club and find out how you might contribute to actually saving somebody’s life. Other helpful souls you could talk to—Caroline Blatter, Luke Presley and Mark Smith together with Jonathan—are the main guiding lights behind ABSAR. It’s worthwhile mentioning that ABSAR has the use of a 14foot rib with appropriate size motor and regularly answers emergency calls.

The 47th annual Antigua Charter Yacht Show was considered by all to be a very successful meeting considering the state of the world in general. But I can’t for the life of me quite understand why the big wigs in St Martin chose the exact same dates as the Antigua Show. If anyone can answer this, please do so.

Jol Byerley arrived in Antigua in 1957 to captain Commander Vernon Nicholson’s schooner Mollihawk. Two years later he bought the first of his many own yachts, Ron of Argyll. She was followed by the 73ft Alden gaff schooner Lord Jim. In 2004 he was awarded a G.O.M. by the Governor General of Antigua and Barbuda for long service to yachting.

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