How RNLI training builds success

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trainers and assessors Matt Cridland and Dave Needham

When thinking of lifeboat stations and their crews the first thought is of a boat – but before it can launch, rigorous training needs to have taken place.

A three-day intensive training exercise for the crew at Rye Harbour RNLI was meticulously planned by deputy training co-ordinators Sharon Gozna, Matt Ellis and helm Tony Peters. Matt Cridland and Dave Needham were training and assessing and signing off where appropriate. Matt’s normal role is Regional Improvement Manager (covering all the stations between Poole and Southend-on-Sea, the Thames and the Channel Islands) but he teamed up with Dave (Trainer and Assessor for 10 stations from Brighton to Burnham-on-Crouch) with his assessor/trainer hat on.

Training on the river

To be able to go out on a boat as crew there are more than 30 modules to be given the green light. It is a big commitment and a great deal of new knowledge to absorb. Having gained five new crew recruits in the past two months, this training was perfectly timed for now they are ready to man the boat during a shout. This strengthens the team at Rye Harbour, especially as they are available during the week in daytime when some, due to work commitments, might not be available or close enough to answer the call.

The dedication and commitment to the tasks they were accomplishing was palpable. There was a constant buzz of activity in the crew room and the team members on all three levels – new recruits, those due for pass-out as competent crew and designate helms – were able to tick boxes throughout the day.

This exercise helps fulfil the Spring 2019 Aims of the station – to get two helms passed out, three existing trainees complete for crewing the boat and ensure that the five new recruits are competent for service.

Practising towing

Dave and Matt devised crew-led bespoke training to address known gaps and progress their training in the most effectual way.

To enable the boat to go out so many times during training the shore-based crew was on-hand throughout the three days, giving up a great deal of their time they would usually be spending with their families. John Rogers, shore crew, manned his privately owned boat so that the towing module was accomplished. It all goes to show how much of a team effort is essential to launch the boat.

The RNLI’s work is based on and driven by their core values: Selflessness – the willingness to put the requirements of others before their own, and the needs of the team before the individual; dependability – being available at all times; trustworthiness – being accountable at all times; and courage – being prepared to achieve the aims of the RNLI in changing and challenging environments. The crews are determined in their mission to save more lives at sea. The intense training was based on these values and the teamwork in evidence reinforced this.

Matt summed up the three days: “It was a great turn out for a small station. The crew was motivated and committed to their training and the training of others where they could assist. Our time as trainers and assessors was used well as one module of training dovetailed into another. In some cases we were working with groups of five at a time and this gave us more time to spend on individuals where needed. It was a really valuable use of our time and it was great to see such dedication.”

Learning the various knots

Stuart Clark, one of the new recruits, said that he felt that the training had allowed him to progress quickly and cover multiple modules in a short time. There were many opportunities to go out on the boat and put classroom theory into practice.

In all, 45 modules were signed off and a great deal of training was accomplished. The work was of a high standard and the crew all worked together well. Dave said that it was a pleasure being with crew who wanted to be there and to progress quickly.

Tony Edwards, LOM (Lifeboat Operation Manager) was pleased with the way the three days had gone, saying: “It was great to see the team coming together and moving forward with their individual training, thus strengthening the station. It is important to remember that these men and women are volunteers and give so freely of their time to keep people safe and save lives at sea. The commitment and dedication they showed by changing work-shifts and missing family time was commendable.”

Image Credits: kt Bruce .

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