Lifeboat skills exchange

Mon, 27 October 2014

Lifeboat Crew members from 11 countries have been involved in a European Exchange Programme designed to help reduce the numbers of people losing their lives in Europe’s waters.

With the aim of exchanging knowledge, sharing ideas and building relationships between the voluntary institutions, the project is now in its third year. Instigated by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) and the Search and Rescue (SAR) organisation KNRM from the Netherlands, the programme has four clear objectives:

-The first is to exchange practical experience and best practice between European Maritime Emergency Search and Rescue (MESR) organisations to support improvements in quality of practices.

-The event helps personal development allowing volunteers to acquire skills increasing their employability in European rescue activities.

-It also acts as a transnational communication platform between MESR organisations, enabling the exchange of results, evaluations and experiences.

-Improving the knowledge of the Maritime English terminology for Lifeboat Crew members, because English is the world-wide and European working language in maritime organisations is the fourth and final objective.

IMRF Chief Executive, Bruce Reid explained: “This Programme has become one of the highlights of the training calendar. It gives crew members the opportunity to exchange experience and skills, to learn new techniques and take part in demanding exercises.  

The volunteer crews involved, collectively commit thousands of hours of their time every year to serving their communities to keep those going out on the water safe.

Sander Boersen, a Dutch crew member who went to Norway, was impressed by a Norwegian coxswain: “It was unique to see how he manoeuvred the vessel between the cliffs and small, rocky islands. In wider areas we were able to take over the helm and steer the vessel ourselves – a great experience and addictive.”

Icelander Kristin Guobrandson, who went to the Netherlands, discovered new practices: “The stern access point was an effective way to pick up casualties. Maybe something useful for our lifeboat designers for the future fleet”.

The host organisations were the Danish Coastal Rescue Service (DaMSA), The Finnish Lifeboat Institute, the UK’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), The German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS) ,The Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS), The Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (NSSR) and The Icelandic Association for Search and Rescue (ICE-SAR), The Netherlands Search and Rescue organisation (KNRM). A crew member from France, two guests from Canada and five crew from Estonia also participated.

The organisers hope that the skills and experienced gained will help save more lives in European waters and, through the IMRF, across the world.

By Jake Frith,-survival-and-training/lifeboat-skills-exchange

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