The fourth European lifeboat crew exchange attracted members from 13 countries – two more than last year – who shared experience on how to help reduce the numbers of people losing their lives in Europe’s waters.
Set up by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF) and organised by the Search and Rescue (SAR) organisation KNRM from the Netherlands, the programme has a number of important 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 seven day event also 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 final objective.
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, vessel management, firefighting, capsize drills leadership and maritime English. A key part of the event has become the visits to lifeboat stations and an opportunity to see how the host organisations operate on the coast.
IMRF Chief Executive, Bruce Reid explained: “The European lifeboat crew exchange programme has now become an important fixture in the calendars of maritime search and rescue volunteers across the continent.
“Through the backing of the European Union’s Erasmus +, who funded the event for the first time this year, and the initiative of Linde Jelsma of KNRM, the exchange has become a vital component in the IMRF’s ambition to spread knowledge and best practice.”
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. In 2014 these rescuers brought more than 25,000 people in difficulty on the water back to safety.
Project manager Linde Jelsma said: “We were again impressed by the enthusiasm, willingness to learn and all round expertise of the participants in this year’s event.
The volunteers all tell us that they go away with fresh ideas which will benefit both their organisations and fellow rescuers back home.”
The initial feedback from those attending this year’s exchange provides even greater incentive to expand this initiative with most referring to this as an experience of a lifetime.
A KNRM host commented: “You became a team in one week; although you were from all over the world, you all do a magnificent job. With different boats, equipment and budgets but all with the same hearts and minds”
Whilst an exchangee from Iceland hosted in Denmark said: “What a week has passed. Now I go back home from Denmark to Iceland with laughter, lots of new things, experience and thanks in my mind to those who made this a once in a lifetime experience.”
The host organisations were the Danish Coastal Rescue Service (DaMSA), The Finnish Lifeboat Institute, the UK and Ireland’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 Rescue organisation (KNRM) and France (SNSM). Also participating, although not hosting were crew members from Russia, Greece, Ireland, Estonia, Portugal and Canada.
The skills and experienced gained will help save more lives in European waters and, through the IMRF, across the world.
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