This unique programme takes volunteers from a variety of European maritime rescue services and gives them the opportunity to visit other countries to experience and learn from their Search and Rescue (SAR) practices. The programme has been running since 2012, and there have been six successful exchanges to date. 

To ensure a benefit is achieved for the participants the programme has a number of important objectives:

To exchange experience and best practice

To aid communication between SAR organisations, enabling the exchange of results, training, experiences and to expand our collaborative working

To help personal development, allowing volunteers to acquire skills increasing their employability

Each host and participant must speak English and so the exchange also improves English Maritime terminology for participants.

The Lifeboat Crew Exchange programme includes a variety of day and night exercises; for exampleg towing, navigating, man overboard recovery, sea survival training, lifeguard training, recovering boats and helicopter transfers.

The volunteer crews take part in simulated SAR exercises, as well as completing training modules organised by the host organisation in first aid, navigation, vessel helming techniques, crisis management, leadership and maritime English.

IMRF Chairman and Trustee, Udo Fox, says:

"Our Lifeboat Crew Exchange grows in size and popularity each year, building on the successes of previous years. The week-long training is highly regarded by all those involved and is proven to give the volunteer crews an amazing and valuable opportunity to work as a transnational team, learning new skills and gaining insights into other search and rescue practices and challenges. The crews taking part collectively commit thousands of hours of their time every year to keep those on the water safe. They will share their experiences and knowledge with others on the exchange programme and with their own crews when they return home, all with the aim of improving Maritime Search and Rescue responses and helping to prevent loss of life in Europe's waters.

Most countries in Europe rely heavily on the maritime volunteer SAR organisations to keep people on the water safe. This seven-day event helps both volunteers and paid crew with their personal development, allowing them to acquire new skills increasing their value and employability in European rescue activities. Each country’s programme is different reflecting the varying circumstances and challenges in each region.

This year's host organisations are:  

•   The Danish Coastal Rescue Service (DCRS)
Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) - UK & Ireland
Estonian Voluntary Maritime Rescue Organisation (EVMJP)
The Finnish Lifeboat Institution (FLI)
French Volunteer Sea Rescuers Association (SNSM)
German Maritime Search and Rescue Service (DGzRS)
Norwegian Society for Sea Rescue (RS)
Life Saving Institute - Portugal (ISN)
Swedish Sea Rescue Society (SSRS)
Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM)

The 2018 exchange will run from Saturday, 22 September 2018 to Saturday, 29 September 2018 and the application for participation is open to all members of host organisations.

So if your organisation is a host and you would like to participate in this excellent SAR exchange and experience the SAR life in the Scandinavian archipelago, living aboard a German Lifeboat Cruiser, or casualty management techniques in the flatlands of The Netherlands then now is the time to apply by contacting your organisation direct.

There will also be some spaces available for those IMRF organisations who do not yet participate in the exchange.

So if your organisation is not a host, but you would like more information about sending crew on the exchange, or about becoming a host in 2019, then please e-mail [email protected], or visit the Crew Exchange website for further information as well as pictures and videos from this year's exchange programme.

The closing date for applications is very soon so if you have any questions regarding this, then please contact us at [email protected].