We talk to Martina Capriotti, a water rescue trainer and board member of the Italian Federation of Aquatic Rescue (FISA), about the IMRF’s upcoming International #WomenInSAR training and seminar, as well as the role of women in modern SAR operations.

The Federazione Italiana Salvamento Acquatico (FISA), also known as the Italian Federation of Aquatic Rescue, is a maritime safety and training organisation that operates in Italy.

Its mission is to provide training and best practices to maritime search-and-rescue (SAR) professionals in order to co-ordinate interventions and prevent accidents both in water and on land.

In 2010 FISA gained authorisation from the Italian Coast Guard General Command, part of the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport, to issue professional patents for working as aquatic rescuers and SAR-related activities.

Martina Capriotti has an impressive resume. She is a marine biologist, an explorer for the National Geographic Society, and a life-long volunteer for the Italian Civil Protection. She represents FISA as a lifeguard trainer, an environmental threats delegate, and a member of the group’s board of directors.

She started her SAR training at the age of 16 when she signed up for a lifesaving course that was run by the now-president of FISA, Raffaele Perrotta.

Her six-month-long lifeguard training exercise involved learning in pools and at sea in the waters off San Benedetto del Tronto in the Adriatic Sea.

Martina’s SAR training was later extended to include rivers and terrestrial environments, and involved learning how to use rescue devices like rescue boards, rescue boats and jet skis. 

Apart from her commitment in the rescue field, she is a researcher in marine biology. She has been studying how microplastics and chemical contamination can affect ocean waters, receiving the National Geographic and Sky Ocean Rescue Scholarship in 2018 to support this effort.

More recently she worked in the United States researching marine invertebrates in the North Atlantic Ocean and their relation with the environment.

In August 2022 Martina will be a part of the IMRF’s first-ever International #WomenInSAR Training and Seminar event.

Talking about her role with FISA ahead of the event, Martina points out that SAR rescuers are a part of the wider operational ecosystem that should be acknowledged more and analysed more accurately in all aspects.

SAR responders are a vital part of a rescue response, but we can only be successful by working in close partnership with the authorities, managers, employers, and the public administrators. Everyone has an important role to play in SAR,she said.

She also feels that it is important that all these actors involved in SAR need to be flexible and open to changes in technology. “One of the challenges I face is to bring all the representatives of SAR, including those not on the water, to have a wider vision of the intrinsic aspects of a rescue, and to adapt with the advancement of new technologies in order to protect the public and the rescuers themselves.

Martina recognises and welcomes the fact that the role of women in SAR operations has been improving in recent years, highlighting how the IMRF’s #WomenInSAR Training and Seminar is a fantastic opportunity for female SAR rescuers to learn new skills, meet fellow professionals, and share experiences. 

When asked why she signed up for the #WomenInSAR Training and Seminar and what she hoped to get out of it, Martina said, “I hope to be able to gain new information and experiences that will broaden my understanding of SAR operations. I also want to be able to bring this personal development back to FISA.

The IMRF’s first-ever International #WomenInSAR Training and Seminar will take place on 26-28 August 2022. The event, which will be hosted by the Finnish Lifeboat Institution (FLBI), will be held in Finland.

The training is intended for women operating on maritime SAR vessels from IMRF Member organisations only.

It will include several aspects of leadership on SAR vessels, including communication, mission handling, and different tools and procedures to assist in leading the unit, as well as both classroom discussions and practical exercises.

The training will be followed by the #WomenInSAR Seminar, open to all men and women, including organisations who are not IMRF Members.

At the seminar, SAR organisations and individuals from around the world will share their insights, experiences and initiatives for increasing the representation of women in their respective organisations and regions.

Click on the following link to find out more about the #WomenInSAR Training & Seminar events and how to register.