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The 8th annual European Lifeboat Crew Exchange, where crew members swap places to learn about different equipment and gain experience in new locations, took place in September this year.

With 72 maritime search and rescue professionals from 14 countries across Europe taking part, the programme which was launched in 2012 and runs each September.

It brings volunteers from lifeboat organisations together to train, share best practice and learn from each other, hosted by the participating groups.

Each year the number of maritime SAR volunteers and organisations taking part in the crew exchange has grown, and every year the feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive, describing it as an incredibly useful and productive exercise.

The European Lifeboat Crew Exchange builds close and extremely collaborative bonds between SAR organisations.

It also offers a very cost-effective way to develop team’s skills and expertise, not least because we all share the same common aim – to save more lives at sea.

Maritime SAR professionals as you would expect, complete thorough, intensive and ongoing training and yet many lifeboat organisations around the world are voluntary and charitable organisations, as a result this cooperation maximises the shared benefits and will significantly help to develop rescue capability across Europe.

Lifeboat organisations from Germany, Norway, Finland, Sweden, the UK, the Netherlands, France, Estonia, Portugal and Croatia both sent teams to other locations and hosted teams from other countries.

While crew members from Latvia, Russia and Canada, travelled across Europe to experience active duty with hosting organisations.

During the week-long exercise (21-28 September 2019) the crew members took part in simulated exercises, shared personal experiences of complex rescue situations and learnt new techniques and skills.

All of the participants rated the week-long exchange as excellent or very good, with the most important benefits being the opportunity to learn new techniques and try out different resources.

Shawn Burchett from Royal Canadian Marine Search & Rescue spoke for many of the crew members when he said that his biggest takeaway was the participants shared passion to improve maritime SAR wherever they are in the world, and their excitement and energy which transcends borders and language barriers.