Port St Mary RNLI volunteers celebrate latest station Coxswain qualification
Gareth Watt, a member of the volunteer RNLI crew at Port St Mary has recently successfully passed a series of gruelling drills in testing rough and dark conditions to qualify as a Coxswain on the Trent class All-Weather Lifeboat RNLB Gough Richie II.
All RNLI Officers and crew members at the Lifeboat Station praised Gareth for the commitment and dedication to the training needed to achieve this role.
Gareth, an Osteopath by profession, joined the Port St Mary lifeboat crew in 2003 and holds various roles at the station, including: Mechanic on the all-weather lifeboat, helmsman on the inshore lifeboat and acts as one of the station’s Local Trainer and Assessors.
Every service call is different, but Gareth cites his most memorable shout as being the rescue of three workers from the Chicken Rock Lighthouse in October 2004. In challenging weather conditions, a support helicopter was unable to safely collect three workers from the lighthouse. Whilst attempting to cross a concrete causeway a large wave washed one of the men into the sea. He had been in the water for over forty minutes, cold and exhausted, but still clinging onto a fish box in strong tide. Port St Mary lifeboat crew successfully recovered him onto the lifeboat. Soon returning with the smaller inshore lifeboat, the volunteers safely recovered the two remaining workers, returning everyone into the care of the emergency services ashore.
To achieve the role of RNLI Coxswain, Gareth had to successfully demonstrate crew management and leadership skills in a variety of scenarios before an independent assessor. The final ‘Pass Out’ assessment session included management of activities such as: simulated engine breakdowns, a major fire onboard, man overboard recovery, anchoring, search and rescue scenarios, night navigation and rough weather handling.
Gareth highlighted that passing assessments like this really comes down to teamwork. He said: ‘The professionalism and teamwork displayed by the rest of the lifeboat crew that night was vital in achieving success in my Coxswain assessment.’
Regular, rigorous training together, with well-planned scenarios means the volunteers can rely on each other to get tasks done in even the most extreme conditions.
The crews are all volunteers, ready to respond to a shout at any time of day or night, 365 days a year. There is a rigorous training program and evaluation procedure conducted at a local level as well as specialised courses available at the RNLI College in Poole.
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 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.
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