Successful Rescue Operation Brings Statia Hiker to Safety

Oranjestad, St. Eustatius- The Fire Department, The Police Department, the St. Eustatius Health Care Foundation (SEHCF, including the ambulance) over the weekend executed a rescue operation, bringing a hiker who got unwell on a hike in Boven National Park back to safety.

Around 11:15am last Saturday morning SEHCF received a phone call from a hiker who indicated to be in Jenkins Bay with a group of 5 hikers in total. The caller said that one of the group members became unwell during the trip and eventually collapsed thereby showing no sign of life.

The emergency services (Fire Department, Police and Ambulance) were contacted immediately with the instruction to dispatch to Zeelandia. Taking the extremely rugged terrain into account it was decided to send out 2 quads from the Fire Department to the location around Jenkin’s, in addition to civilians, volunteers and Police officers. However, the location of the hikers seemed not to be around Jenkins Bay but close to Fontaan Bay, which was difficult to reach by land in a short period of time. It was then agreed upon that the Helicopter with a doctor on board were sent to pinpoint the exact location of the hikers.

Fire Chief Andre Bennett scaled up the incident to level 1 and activated the COPI (which are the red, white, blue and orange columns) of the local Disaster Committee coordinated from the Fire Department. All radio and decisive commands are filtered from here to the field. Regular updates were provided to Alida Francis, Deputy Government Commissioner.


Eventually the pilots were able to locate a spot which was suitable to land nearby the hikers, which was at an approximate distance of 15 minutes by foot.  The victim was brought to the helicopter on a stretcher by the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee in the Dutch Caribbean (KMar) and the Fire Fighters. The doctor was also on the mountain scene and administered basic medical checks on the victim. After taking care of her medical condition, he accompanied her in the Helicopter which headed to the airport. She was then brought by ambulance to the Queen Beatrix Medical Hospital. The hiker probably suffered from dehydration and heat-stroke.

In total 19 persons plus the COPI were involved in the rescue operation. Initially 3 options were discussed: rescue by Sea, by land or by air. After careful deliberations within the emergency services it was decided that a rescue by air was the only option due to the location of the 5 hikers.


Fire Chief Andre Bennett expressed gratitude to all the responders, the volunteers, the diver and the crew of the helicopter who assisted in this successful rescue operation which was concluded around 6 PM on Saturday.

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