Lifeboat volunteer’s imitation injuries provide practice for crew at Walmer RNLI
Bruised, battered, bandaged and bound, Walmer RNLI lifeboat helm Lee Waddon looks a sorry state as he lies injured on a stretcher after an “accident”.
But thankfully, his injuries were just pretend, and the treatment he received, valuable practice for the volunteer lifeboat crew as part of a casualty care training course this week.
A total of 14 volunteer crew members at Walmer RNLI lifeboat station spent three days on the course – the modern day equivalent of what would once have been termed “first aid”. It acted as refresher training for experienced lifeboat crew as well as vital training for newer volunteers who joined the RNLI more recently.
And Lee Waddon, Walmer RNLI helm and crew training coordinator, was chosen as the “victim” on which the crew practised their skills.
The course consisted of various aspects of caring for casualties and how to deal with all manner of conditions that the crew come across during their daring lifesaving rescues, including:
- treating trauma
- cuts and burns
- applying dressings
- dealing with various accident scenarios
- using stretchers and the correct way to move a casualty
Denis Brophy, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Walmer RNLI Lifeboat Station, said: ‘The casualty care course provides vital training that enable our lifeboat crew members to treat casualties who are injured and in shock. Many of our rescues are fairly benign, for example towing broken down vessels, giving assistance to people cut off by the tide, but others are a lot more serious.
‘Sometimes when a person is injured, they can be some way off shore, and they need treating much more quickly than the time it would take to get them back to shore – we need to be ready to treat them. Our volunteers need to be highly skilled in order to administer first aid, which is often vital in the immediate aftermath of an accident or injury.’
The casualty care course is all part of the RNLI’s Competency Based Training framework for its volunteers, a well-established infrastructure which lifeboat crews undertake to receive the training and assessments necessary for their role. Delivered by instructors from the charity’s headquarters in Poole, Dorset, the training ensures crews are ready to handle any situation the sea can throw at them.
As a charity that relies almost entirely on voluntary contributions, the RNLI relies on people’s donations to fund essential training like this.
Denis said: ‘Our volunteer crews give up a lot of time already, leaving their family and work whenever the pager goes off. They had to take three days out of their busy lives to do this training so it was a big commitment from them. Here at Walmer we had a couple of incidents that were quite difficult earlier in the year, so it is a testament to their dedication that they wanted to take part in this course.’
To find out more about the RNLI’s volunteer lifeboat crew training, visit www.rnli.org/what-we-do/lifeboats-and-stations/lifeboat-crew-training
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Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland