About ABSAR and Our Crew

Antigua and Barbuda Search and Rescue (ABSAR) is a non-profit organization dedicated to saving lives in Antigua and Barbuda.

We provide 24/7 Search and Rescue, emergency medical assistance and firefighting services in and around Antigua and Barbuda.

ABSAR is run by a group of volunteers with extensive medical, marine, aviation and firefighting backgrounds. We currently have a 28’ Protector RIB and a 27’ Revenger RIB for our rescues and event support. We coordinate search and rescues and medivacs using both fixed-wing and helicopters. We have a medic station based at the Antigua Yacht Club Marina in Falmouth Harbour which treats over 1000 medical cases each year. We have two Land Rover rescue vehicles that are used to treat and transport patients to the island’s main hospital and to other medical facilities on the island. We also operate a Defender Fire Response Vehicle for the local community.

ABSAR works closely with our international Marine Rescue Coordination Center, located in Fort de France, Martinique (MRCCFF) which is responsible for the area surrounding Antigua and Barbuda. Thanks to our numerous volunteers, we provide 24 hour coverage, 365 days of the year. We work in close cooperation with the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force Coast Guard, Fire Department, Police Department and Emergency Medical Services. During 2017 ABSAR treated over 1000 medical cases, responded to 71 emergencies in the response vehicles, conducted 11 Search and Rescue assists, coordinated 2 medivacs, supported 8 regattas and events and escorted 11 Trans-Atlantic Rowing boats into the harbour.

ABSAR is run by a board of Directors and is headed by Paramedic and Firefighter Jonathan Cornelius. We have approximately 15 volunteers who dedicate their time to helping others… so that other’s may live!/

ABSAR's History

After being instrumental in the creation of the Antigua and Barbuda Emergency Medical Services department here in Antigua, Jonathan Cornelius began thinking of ways to increase the safety levels of our growing number of sailing regattas. In 1996 Jonathan contacted the race committee for the Antigua Race Week, and offered his services as a Paramedic. The Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta then contacted him about providing the same service for the Classic Yacht Regatta. ABSAR has been a fixture on both race courses ever since. ABSAR was formally started by Julie Harvey Esty in 1998, after an unsuccessful search and rescue for two young Antiguan sailors who encountered problems on their Hobie Cat between the islands of St Lucia and St Vincent. It became clear that there was a need for a formal Search and Rescue organization that would coordinate both marine and aerial searches for persons and boats lost at sea.

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Volunteers

Our volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds and undergo training in seamanship and small boat-handling skills, search and rescue techniques and first aid. They all give up their own time to train and answer distress calls, with nothing in return except for satisfaction in knowing that they are saving lives.

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