The principal mission of VITEMA as a first response coordinator, is to save lives and property of the territory’s population, by preparing territorial organizations to respond to, recover from and mitigate against All-Hazards, through planning, coordinating, training and exercise activities and is the sole Virgin Islands government agency designated to supervise, administer and coordinate All-Hazards response and recovery operations. Authority is derived from V. I. Code,Title 23, the VITEMA Act (5233) of 1986 and the Emergency Management Act of 2009.
To be the pre-eminent emergency management agency in the Caribbean and the Nation by providing an effective, responsible, and professional network of services to ensure resiliency before, during, and after a natural or man-made incident that may impact the safety and well-being of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency (VITEMA) is the lead emergency management agency for the Territory as defined in the Virgin Islands Code, Title 23, Chapter 10. As such, the VITEMA’s mission is to prepare for, coordinate the response to and the recovery from all hazards and threats that impacts the Virgin Islands. In recent years, VITEMA has focused the majority of its planning and training efforts on hurricane and coastal storm preparedness. While this preparedness effort is extremely important, the Territory faces many equally dangerous and significant threats from other natural and man-made disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis and terrorism. The Territory must maintain a high level of readiness in order to effectively respond to these threats especially in light of recent earthquake events in Haiti and Chile in our hemisphere.
To meet these threats, Governor John P. de Jongh, Jr., in 2009, reorganized emergency management in the Virgin Islands by consolidating the VITEMA, the Virgin Islands Office of Homeland Security, the 9-1-1 communication centers, and the Public Assistance Grant Program. Moving VITEMA’s personnel, program, and functions from under the auspices of the Office of the Adjutant General, the Office of Management and Budget and the VI Police Department will bring greater focus and enhance the importance of emergency management throughout the Territory. This approach has been further strengthened by elevating the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency to a cabinet-level agency under the Office of the Governor of the Virgin Islands.
The new VITEMA has been established following the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which is a comprehensive, nationwide systematic approach to emergency management. The system standardizes resource management procedures for optimum coordination among different islands, departments, and agencies of the V.I. Government and the private sector. VITEMA, as it is reorganized, enhances organizational and technological operations and cooperation, which promotes all-hazard preparedness.
The components of VITEMA include logistics, preparedness, operations, grant manage ment, administration and finance and recovery. You can learn more about VITEMA's Divisions, here.
Governor John P. deJongh, Jr. has fulfilled his commitment to implementing a 9-1-1 system with modern equipment and services required to assist dispatchers and first responders in providing professional emergency response services to V.I. citizens – and the millions of annual guests – in the Territory. The Unified Communications Center is currently operational on St. Croix and on St. Thomas/St. John/Water Island.
During the 2009-2010 fiscal year VITEMA has made significant progress on improving its infrastructure. With funding from the Legislature, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) on St John was refurbished and modern telecommunication and video teleconference capabilities were installed. Simultaneously, on St. Croix, with assistance from the V.I Government some repairs of the facility were completed. On St Thomas, the Government acquired the E.D. Plumbing Building and has reconfigured and rebuilt the interior to meet the needs of the newly reorganized VITEMA. This facility also includes modern telecommunication equipment, a fusion center, a new EOC, and is the home of the 9-1-1 Communication Center.
As VITEMA improves performance and coordinates services to reduce response time, the Agency will better serve the V.I. community before, during and after emergencies. The VITEMA is committed to being the number one (1) emergency management agency in the Caribbean and will continue striving to provide quality emergency response services and to protect the security of our homeland in the Virgin Islands.