Rescue volunteers from across nine European nations are to participate next week in the third, seven day Lifeboat Crew Exchange Programme organised by the IMRF.
They will share experiences and knowledge with the aim of improving Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) responses and help to prevent loss of life in Europe’s waters.
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.
The seven intensive days they will spend with their counterparts from the other rescue organisations on the exchange provides a perfect platform to share their experiences, knowledge and best practice in Maritime SAR matters.
The Crew Exchange is comprised of simulated search and rescue exercises as well as training modules from the host organisation in areas such as first aid, navigation, off road driving, crisis management, leadership and maritime English.
The 63 participants will also experience day and night time exercises including towing, navigating, man overboard recovery, sea survival training, lifeguard training, recovering boats and helicopter transfers.
“This programme is becoming an important fixture in the calendars of rescue volunteers from Europe and elsewhere,” said Bruce Reid, Chief Executive of the IMRF. “The European Lifeboat Crew Exchange Programme provides a unique platform for volunteer rescue crews to share knowledge on best practice in maritime SAR and to go back to their respective countries with fresh ideas and practices.”
Each organisation operates its own training programme because of the specialist activities they carry out and the conditions they operate in. The crew members will experience this training first hand over the course of the week, exposing them to new training content as well as the different styles and approach their hosts may use.
The Crew Exchange is project managed by IMRF members the KNRM of the Netherlands, with Linde Jelsma heading the initiative. The programme has funding secured through the Life Long Learning programme of the European Union.
The outcomes of the programmes to date have included increased experience of lifeboat crew members along with improved professional knowledge, working in a trans-national team, and continuous sharing of knowledge and increased mutual understanding of the challenges faced in maritime search and rescue.
Project manager Ms Linde Jelsma has been very pleased with the feedback from the previous two Crew Exchanges and received good support for continuing the programme from all organisations involved.
Ms Jelsma said: “I am extremely lucky to work together with a great and enthusiastic team of people who host their IMRF crew exchange locally.
“With European funding and the effort all coordinators put into this programme, we have managed to organise the third lifeboat crew exchange.
“In the future I would like to share this maritime SAR knowledge worldwide to improve cooperation and understanding. All these amazing people learn so many interesting things during this exchange and I would love to spread that knowledge more widely” She added.
Teams of crew members go to seven countries – each hosting a seven day long programme from the nine participating nations – Norway, Denmark, Germany, Finland, UK, Iceland, Sweden, The Netherlands and Estonia. Also participating are two Canadians and a crew member from France.
The skills and experienced gained will help save more lives in European waters and, through the IMRF, across the world. The exchange runs from September 28th to October 4th.