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Search And Rescue – VISAR Upgrades!



Photography by Rainbow Visions BVI

VISAR—Virgin Islands Search and Rescue—is an official organisation, collaborating with the Royal BVI police, fire, and ambulance services with the mission of saving lives at sea.

I recently interviewed Sergio Dantas, a member of VISAR, regarding a new platform, D4H which is intended to further enhance VISAR’s efficiency and effectiveness.


Q & A

What is D4H software?

The D4H is actually a website that serves us as a platform to store and analyse VISAR data. All our shouts, training logs, meetings, crew qualification, etcetera are now stored at the same place, in the cloud, where all volunteers can have access at all times.



What does it do?

It concentrates our information, showing the places where we are most requested, nature of occurrence, response time, and who has been attending training sessions. There is also a virtual notice board for upcoming events…


How does it work?

Basically, we all log on to the website and have access to it. There are different levels of access so the functionality depends on the access level, but everyone has access to the information.

Where did this system come from?

VISAR was looking for a backup system to page the crew and I was asked to help. While searching for this paging system, we found a few similar systems that offered not only the paging system, but also this better way to manage the entire system while making the information available to our volunteers. We started with about 10 options and evaluated the value for money. There were nice options which were more costly, but with no real benefits to our operation. The support offered also had great importance to us.

VISAR Helo Trg Select JPEG's_003

How was VISAR funded to upgrade to this system?

VISAR is funded by donations and the fundraising events we do all year round. The funds came from this donated money.

Why is D4H important?

Now we can easily know when one of our volunteers is not available…every week each volunteer receives an email with the events he is involved in during the coming week. We can also [log on to] find what happened the week before. The statistics will also help VISAR…saving lives: we will try to use this information to prevent the accidents.


Globally, who currently utilises this software?

There are companies from all over the globe using this system, for different purposes from SAR (Search and Rescue) with helicopters to hospital emergency teams, from emergency welfare in disasters to coast guard auxiliary…

How will it improve communication for VISAR?

When the information is added to the D4H system, we have a backup in so-called ‘cloud.’ We now carry tablets in our boats so we can have easier communication with our base sending in advance some sensitive information that may be used by the EMTs and our coordinators can also update us with information. All our volunteers can from home or even from their mobile phones (via a simple text message) check and update their status so our coordinators know how many of us are available if necessary.


Any other new technological advances on the horizon for VISAR?

Yes, we are looking for some big steps in the technological side of VISAR in the future, but as you can imagine there are all kind of challenges to do so. It is not only a matter of costs, but to make sure it all works smoothly. At the end of the day, we operate on donated money and we must be very careful how we spend it.

Erin Paviour-Smith

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