The IMRF European Region's lifeboat crew exchange project started in 2012 and has run in the first week of October each year since.
Crews cross borders to share experience and learn from each other. The duration of the exchange is six full days (Saturday to Saturday).
Linde Jelsma, the project coordinator, notes that the event has grown from 7 participating countries in 2012 to 11 in 2015. Interest in future exchanges has been expressed by other lifeboat organisations, including some from outside Europe.
The exchange focusses on sharing knowledge and experience across borders, learning different techniques, and developing communication skills in a universal nautical – and SAR – language: "making friends for life" as one crew member wrote in his evaluation of his own exchange experience.
Future plans for the exchange project are to implement it as a standard training event, with a more strategic approach. Linde is currently applying for new European Union funding under the 'Erasmus Plus' scheme. She is also considering other long term investment options, including sponsorship and crowd funding options. We would like to replicate this successful idea in other parts of the world too.