Governor John P. de Jongh Jr. joined other government officials and residents on St. John Saturday to dedicate the first of its kind ambulance boat in the region, noting that it was the culmination of a commitment by both government officials and citizens to ensure that quality health care service is provided on the island.
De Jongh also took note that the dedication of the boat in honor of longtime boat captain Liston “Huntie” Sprauve came during Public Health Week, a time when public health service is heralded nationwide. He also praised St. Croix-based boat manufacturer, Gold Coast Yachts, which 10 months ago took on the job to provide the Virgin Islands with a top-notch vessel.
|Honoree, Captain Liston “Huntie” Sprauve (center), and Gold Coast Yachts Vice President Jeff Bisson (left) is flanked by Government and Health staff including Governor John P. de Jongh Jr. and Acting Health Commissioner Fern P. Clarke, in front of the newly dedicated and first-of-its-kind Ambulance Boat.
“It wasn’t a vessel picked off the shelf but one designed for St. Johnians,” de Jongh said of the 45 ft to 55 ft catamaran-hull design that ensures a highly stable working platform and capable of high speed and operate in all types of weather and off-shore conditions.
St. Johnians, he said, can rest a bit easier, in terms of emergency response.
“If they can’t go from a helipad, they can go from a vessel that is reliable and on time.”
Lt. Governor Gregory R. Francis also praised the state-of-the art ambulance which he called a “sparkling gem” in the territory’s plan to reforming and improving the health care system.
“It is a valuable resource for providing medical support transportation not only for residents, but for mariners on our seas,” he said, before appealing to residents to report any suspicious activity around the boat in order to protect it for when it is needed the most.
|Governor John P. de Jongh Jr. with honoree Captain Liston “Huntie” Sprauve and his wife Joyce Scatliffe Sprauve,
April 9, 2011.
Dr. Selwyn Mahon, Director of the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Division under the Health Department, described Saturday’s dedication as a “glorious day” as too often it is only under trying circumstances that his staff meets the public.
“The creation of this ambulance boat was not an easy task as there are only a couple of other states in the US that possesses ambulance boats and most of them are mostly concerned with rescue,” Mahon said. “We celebrate the new ambulance boat and recognize that with it comes the commitment of the governor and his staff, the Department of Health and EMS to provide the best emergency services we can to the people of St. John and the Territory.”
Mahon saluted employees, who were dressed in uniform blues and who were applauded by the audience, for their heroic round-the-clock work in saving lives.
Acting Health Commissioner Fern P. Clarke in brief remarks brought a bit of laughter to the crowd as she noted just how passionate and enduring St. Johnians were about the newest boat, which sat gleaming in the harbor with the customary blue and orange striping of the Department’s street ambulances.
When officials reached out for public input to name the ambulance boat, residents reminded them of their fortitude with names such as Patience, A Long Time Coming and At Last, Clarke said.
They also noted just how much the new acquisition meant to them with such recommendations as Sea Cure, Miracle Maker, Rescue Me, Deliverance and Aqua Hope, among others.
Saturday’s ceremony, which was streamed live on WSTA Radio, was attended by local and federal officials including members of the Governor’s Cabinet, Superior Court, National Park Service, St. John Rescue, Department of Health staff, and members of the 29th Legislature. St. John Administrator Leona Smith served as Mistress of Ceremonies.
De Jongh and Sprauve joined others in dedicating the boat with the customary bottle breaking on its stern to the joy of onlookers. Later, both government officials and residents toured the boat.
Sprauve, a boat mechanic before receiving his captain license some 40 years ago, pledged to do whatever it takes to ensure that boat remains in top condition.
“I never thought this day would ever get here,” Sprauve said after he was presented with signed letter from the governor naming the boat in his honor. “I know in my heart we have a vessel that will transport patients safely and in comfort. I will do my best to keep the boat the way it is today.”