Fire, EMS services in U.S. Virgin Islands to merge

EMS will be part of the V.I. Fire Service now that Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. has signed the long-sought legislation


Bethaney Lee
The Virgin Islands Daily News

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands — Gov. Albert Bryan Jr. has signed into law legislation merging Fire Services and Emergency Medical Services with the goal of delivering more efficient and complete emergency medical services to U.S. Virgin Islanders.

The bill-signing ceremony was held Friday at the Omar Brown Fire Station on St. Thomas, and according to a news release issued two days later, the new law will place the territory's Emergency Medical Services as a division of V.I. Fire Service, which is charged with oversight.

While the endeavor sounds simple, the Legislature had rejected previously crafted merger bills three different times before the proposal sent down by Senate President Donna Frett-Gregory on behalf of Bryan, which was ultimately passed through the committee process.

In a statement released by Government House, Bryan said that the proposal to merge the V.I. Fire Service and Emergency Medical Services, which was under the V.I. Health Department, had been presented 15 years ago, and he recounted the efforts of Gov. John de Jongh Jr. administration to get the measure passed through the Legislature. Bryan served in de Jongh's Cabinet as Labor commissioner.

With the bill now signed into law, the territory is on trend with the rest of the nation that has taken to containing emergency medical services within the fire department division. The merger also compliments U.S. Fire administration's most recent data, which estimates two-thirds of all reported calls to fire departments in the nation require the use of emergency medical services and less than 5 percent of all calls are specifically fire-related.

"If we had done it then, imagine the people that maybe would have survived because Virgin Islanders could have responded not from one spot, but from five or six locations throughout the territory," Bryan said. "I really am proud to say today that we got it done."

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(c)2022 The Virgin Islands Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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