The final planning for the 2016 Lifeboat Crew Exchange was completed in late May with a meeting of the coordinators from the nine countries that will be hosting this year. The 2016 Crew Exchange will take place 24 September - 1 October.
The coordinators’ meeting was held in the French coastal city of Saint-Nazaire and was hosted by IMRF member organisation Société Nationale de Sauvetage en Mer (SNSM). The town has a major harbour, with a long history of fishing and shipbuilding. It lies on the right bank of the Loire River estuary, near the Atlantic Ocean, and is the home of the SNSM training facility. Host for the meeting, Didier Moreau, the SNSM Director of Training, arranged for the coordinators to tour the training facility and organised an evening trip to the local lifeboat station.
The meeting reviewed last year’s successful exchange and discussed the programmes planned for this year. The reviews highlighted the diversity of the experience and training provided by the different host countries.
Here is an example of what this year’s participants might expect. Sigurdur Vidarsson, from Iceland, has been involved with the programme from the start as the coordinator of the exchange programme run by ICE-SAR. He described the experience provided last year, with visits to view and discuss the design of their new rescue boat included in a programme of visits to lifeboat stations. The programme included on the water exercises and fire rescue drills in custom-made chambers, designed to challenge the teamwork and decision-making under pressure of the exchange participants.
“We try to provide our guests with a memorable experience, not only of the specialist areas of training but also of our country,” says Siggy. “We look every year to improve on the exchange activity and 2016 will, we hope, be our best yet."
The final word though goes to one of the participants who posted on the IMRF Crew Exchange Facebook page:
“Yesterday evening in east coast of Iceland. Unbelievable place to spend an evening and night. No electricity or cellular coverage, accessible only by boat or driving over the mountain with a suitable car. Good food, good location, northern lights and good friends. Thanks to IMRF exchange program participants in Iceland and our fearless leader Sigurdur, what a week it has been!”
Top Photo: The Crew Exchange team: Linde Jelsma, project leader, is third from the left