We have focussed on two of our larger Member organisations in this edition.
Let’s now look at one of the smaller ones – just as important to the global SAR system!
ABSAR, like many organizations, was born out of need.
In 1998, an 18 foot Hobie Cat went missing with two Antiguans onboard while en route from Grenada to Antigua. During the subsequent search efforts, the need for additional resources became apparent.
Throughout the years, ABSAR has continued to respond to the needs of the community. Initially providing and organizing aerial search assets to support SAR activities in the area, ABSAR expanded their services to include medical and rescue support for the Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and the Antigua Race Week Regattas each year.
They now operate two rescue RIBs and conduct SAR missions up to 40 nm offshore, averaging 25-30 missions annually.
ABSAR is equipped to provide fire suppression with their portable firefighting pump and associated equipment, responding to several fires on and off the water each year. In 2015, ABSAR added a Defender fire tender to their shoreside operations.
ABSAR also provides a land-based emergency medical service using a Discovery 3 ambulance and a Defender rescue vehicle to provide emergency care and transportation for up to 70 cases a year, and a medic station which provides an urgent care facility for illnesses and injuries, treating up to 1000 patients each year.
So how does ABSAR “fit in” to the SAR picture? They work closely with the French Maritime Rescue Coordination Center, the Antiguan Coast Guard and the V.C. Bird International Airport to provide SAR coverage for Antigua and Barbuda, and with the Antigua Emergency Medical Service and the Antigua Fire Service to provide EMS and fire cover, both on and off the water. They provide an urgent care facility to benefit our community.
Last year ABSAR participated in an airport mass rescue exercise involving an airline crash offshore. They responded along with the Antigua Coast Guard, Fire Service, Emergency Medical Services, Police, Hospital staff, and Antigua Barbuda Airport Authority. The scenario called for a Boeing 737 crash a mile offshore with 97 persons aboard.
ABSAR developed a marine triage system to help prioritize which persons needed most urgent rescue. During this exercise, ABSAR found the new system to be highly effective in rapidly rescuing all victims and thereby maximizing the use of very limited resources.
ABSAR remains flexible in responding to community needs by providing a multi-disciplined emergency response agency.
“So that others may live...”