Walmer RNLI volunteer takes part in international crew exchange programme
An RNLI volunteer from Walmer Lifeboat Station recently took part in a week-long lifeboat crew exchange programme organised by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), joining colleagues from the UK, Ireland and across Europe.
Dan Sinclair, a volunteer helmsman at Walmer RNLI travelled to Lisbon, Portugal from 23 to 30 September to join with other search and rescue (SAR) volunteers from France, Estonia, Germany, Holland and Portugal.
The programme, funded by the IMRF, has been running since 2012 and invites volunteers from 13 lifeboat services to send crew members to different European locations to work and train with that country’s SAR team. It included a variety of day and night exercises including first aid and survival training, casualty transfers, navigation and recovery.
Dan’s visit was hosted by the Instituto de Socorros a Naufragos (ISN) which is part of the Portuguese navy and has only 95 lifeboat crew members for the entire country.
Speaking of his experience Dan said: ‘I was delighted and excited when my application to take part in the exchange was accepted and proud to be representing the RNLI.’
‘I was surprised how well equipped the RNLI is compared to other nations, some of whom have to supply their own kit.’
‘Despite the obvious language barriers, although Maritime English is encouraged within crews, we worked well together as a team, especially on the final day when we successfully recovered three people in life raft seven nautical miles off shore after a 60-mile passage in thick fog.’
The ultimate goal of the exchange is to provide volunteer crews with experiences and knowledge which they can share with others on the programme and with their own crews when they return home with the aim of improving Maritime SAR responses and helping prevent loss of life in Europe’s waters.
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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 237 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 180 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.
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.