Constant training for RNLI crew

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Letting off emergency flares on the quayside

Behind the RNLI’s long record of saving lives at sea is the ability of the volunteer crew-members to respond competently and professionally in emergency situations

The key to their success is the constant programme of training they undertake, and over the past two weeks approximately a quarter of the volunteers at Rye Harbour lifeboat station have made the trip to the national RNLI College at Poole in Dorset. Five crew went through the Capsize and Sea Survival courses in a purpose-built tank (the country’s largest) which can simulate storm wind and waves whilst a lifeboat is deliberately capsized.

Sea Survival, a certificated course which must be successfully completed by anyone working at sea, focuses on using life-rafts and a range of techniques to stay alive in the water in an emergency.

Brendan Towner reflected enthusiastically on his experience of the training: “It gave me a lot of confidence in dealing with a situation like a capsize which is completely unfamiliar, but as well as that it was a team-building exercise – both with our own and other crew members. It is really important that each of us can rely on everyone else in the boat.”

Tim Brown was equally positive: “It was great to spend time at the College’s fantastic training facility. Seeing the impressive Shannon lifeboat being built was something else!”

The lifeboat station’s two volunteer Press Officers had an intense two-and-a-half day course preparing them for dealing with all aspects of news, including press releases and social media, culminating in a mock ‘live’ interview for television news in the scenario of a 12-year-old boy having been apparently swept out to sea in a gale.

The RNLI’s training courses are vital to ensure that all volunteers are capable of dealing with the emergency situations that they face but they are also highly effective in building team dynamics, and, as all the volunteers reported, they are personally affirming and enjoyable.

Image Credits: Brendan Towner .

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