European Lifeboat Crew Exchange

Staff from DGzRS have taken part in the IMRF Lifeboat Crew Exchange every year since its establishment and have helped to develop this much valued annual event. 

DGzRS is the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service, responsible for Search and Rescue in German territorial waters in the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.  Founded in 1865, it owns 55 lifeboat stations which are operated by 185 employed crew members and 800 volunteers. 

The society responds to more than 2000 call outs each year. In 2019 DGzRS saved 81 lives, rescued 270 persons from critical situations and carried out 373 medical transports. The society is financed exclusively through donations and voluntary contributions.

How Long Have You Been Involved in the Lifeboat Crew Exchange?

Right since it started.  It was a bit more informal and improvised at the beginning, but over the years each country taking part has really worked to develop the content and boost experience of all those involved.

The exchange is an optional event for our staff and volunteers, but it’s become a much valued and sought-after experience.  Every year we receive requests from team members keen to take part and all those who’ve attended in the past whole heartedly recommend it.

We Asked Some of the Team What They Thought Was the Most Valuable Aspect for Them

Sabine Rühmann, Voluntary Crew Member DGzRS, Rescue Boat GILLIS GULLBRANSSON, based Brunsbüttel says: “It’s fact that we all share the same compassion for helping anyone in need at sea and come together as a team to do this. That alone makes me remember and cherish this week for a long time. I strongly recommend the programme to anyone considering attending.” 

Larissa Buck, Head of Training DGzRS adds: “The chance to compare different boat types and equipment to ours was very interesting and the opportunity to experience the Swedish rescue runners was a great experience."

Stephan Prahl, Co-Ordinator Crew Exchange Germany DGzRS says that: “The exercises that take place between the exchange group and our own people are most valuable as it gives us the chance to identify potential improvements in our own operations.

Benjamin Großer, Engineer, DGzRS Rescue Cruiser HERMANN MARWEDE, based Helgoland adds that: “The exchange offered a really valuable range of insights, such as exploring HUET Training, experiencing different boat handling techniques or just appreciating the capabilities of the local MRCC, the opportunities to experience new things were impressive."

In each case, the staff members taking part have appreciated the instant teamwork between the participants despite most of them never having met before, and all the hosts taking part have a well-earned reputation for their kind hospitality and warm welcome.

What Would You Say to Anyone Attending, to Help Them Make the Most of the Experience?

Overall, participants should be open to new ideas, and should try and think creatively to find new ways and solutions. 

The activities and exercises may throw up unexpected situations which offer new learning opportunities, but teamwork and a positive attitude will successfully manage almost anything! 

Several of DGzRS’s team also suggest finding out a bit more about your host country before setting off to counter any culture shock and looking up key phrases in the host’s language which will undoubtedly help when you’re all working together.