OIA Funds USVI Ambulances

Washington D.C. - The Department of the Interior's Assistant Secretary for Insular Areas, Tony Babauta, has authorized the award of $500,000 to the Government of Virgin Islands to support the operations and delivery of emergency medical services throughout the Territory.

The Virgin Islands Emergency Medical Service (VIEMS), a division of the Virgin Islands Department of Health is the designated recipient of the grant from fiscal year 2011 funds. VIEMS is responsible for operating and managing 365 days/24 hour ambulance service on all three islands and it will use $180,000 to purchase new ambulances and $320,000 to appropriately stock and maintain its existing fleet of overworked ambulances.

"I am very sensitive to the growing challenges that public health institutions in the Virgin Islands and the other Insular Areas are facing with trying to maintain standards and delivering excellent medical service in an era of shrinking public dollars and exploding medical cost," said Babauta.

"After consulting with Governor John deJongh and Delegate Donna Christensen, I am satisfied that the investment we are making in VIEMS with our limited dollars is the right one to make at this time. We all can agree that investing in reliable and well stocked ambulances is truly an initiative that will serve all Virgin Islanders when it is needed most."

Governor deJongh said he was heartened by the announcement of the award to purchase ambulances and support emergency medical services in the territory. "This action not only reflects on the benefits that flow from our efforts to maintain good relations with our federal partners, but the focused and effective leadership of Assistant Secretary Babauta. The Assistant Secretary has time and again demonstrated his commitment to healthcare and to offering assistance which allows the territories to provide basic improvement in the quality of life for children and families."

"As a former Assistant Commissioner of Health who had responsibility for Emergency Medical Services, I know how much this is needed. Being able to reach an emergency victim quickly and fully equipped can mean the difference between life and death. I thank Assistant Secretary Babauta for always being sensitive to our needs and his commitment to the Virgin Islands," said Congresswoman Christensen.

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