The Rotary Club of St John is the recipient of $23,750 from The Rotary Foundation in a Matching Grant to acquire a Medical Oxygen Generator for the island of St John. Responding to a request from St John Rescue the club has brought together clubs from Puerto Rico and West Virginia to fund the acquisition.

“This will finally give first responders access to oxygen in the event of an emergency. Our present source is on St Thomas and is not necessarily available in the event of a storm or other disaster” said Bob Malacarne of St John Rescue. “We were able to raise some funds, but the equipment will cost over $68,000 and we clearly needed Rotary to access their resources.”

Rotary Project Leader John Fuller contacted Grant Coordinators in Puerto Rico and West Virginia who responded positively to the project. The e-Club of Puerto Rico and their District contributed $9,000, the Rotary Club of Buckhannon, WV kicked in $1,000 and their District contributed $5,000 and our own District contributed $9,500 along with $2,000 from St John. Together with The Rotary Foundation grant St John Rescue will have the funds to get a generator which will support all the first responders on St John as well as the Myrah Keating Smith Community Health Center.

“Our fundraising events, like Flavors of St John, enable St John Rotary to support community needs like this” noted Rotarian Fuller. “Generous donations from the community and the support of local organizations like Scotiabank enable us to do this” he continued. St John Rescue will be readying their new Headquarters (the old Dr. Cool building on Centerline road) for installation of the oxygen generator. A check for the 50% deposit on the equipment was sent to the manufacturer on November 19.

Tropical shipping delivered the generator to St John on Friday, March 15th. It was much larger than anticipated, but with a borrowed truck from The Westin, St John Rescue and a Rotarian managed to man-handle it off the pallets and into Recue Headquarters. A forklift would have been really nice to have! With little bloodshed and no damage to the equipment it now rests in the room where it will be installed. There are many checklist items to be cleared before we can have the manufacturer’s installation team come to complete the process. We are now looking at late April for full operation. It will be comforting to go into next hurricane season with a local source for medical oxygen. Thanks to all those who are working to make this finally happen.

Final installation and training began on May 6, 2013 and Rescue is now generating all the medical oxygen that St John needs. We showcased this installation at the “Grand Opening – Open House” hosted by St John Rescue September 8. We had representatives from many of the first responders who will benefit from this equipment, along with Rotarians from St John and Puerto Rico.