This year saw the 5th IMRF Crew Exchange and not only did the crew involved learn all about SAR in a different country they were also involved in helicopter crash training, survival techniques and rescuing crew mates from capsized boats.

“(What a) great feeling that "SAR" is a common language!!! After 1 hour at sea, 8 people from different countries on an unfamiliar lifeboat (and in an unknown area) can perform a search pattern and related rescue actions together successfully!” - Sylvain MOYNAULT (Crew member from SNSM France who attended the exchange in Iceland).

Set up by the IMRF and organised by Linde Jelsma, of the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM) this year's crew exchange brought together 65 lifeboat crew members from across Europe to share their experiences and learn new techniques – and support for the event was universal.

Participants were incredibly enthusiastic: Orn Smarason from Iceland said: "I feel blessed having had an opportunity to visit SNSM in France, they gave us the perfect week of exercises."

The host organisations this year were from 9 IMRF member organisations and crew members also attended from Portugal, Estonia, Curacao and Latvia.

"Each year a new group of lifeboat crew members are able to interact and gain practical experience in waters and situations that are often unfamiliar. They come away after an intensive week with a wider knowledge and ideas and solutions that can be applied back home." says Bruce Reid, IMRF CEO. "The implications of this exchange reach much further than just to those that attend. Each crew member takes skills back to their own station and the SAR community then becomes an even closer family with every year that passes."

The respect and appreciation for this initiative is reflected in the nomination of Linde Jelsma for a H.E.R.O award, Linde’s commitment and enthusiasm turned this idea into a reality and the value created by the IMRF Crew Exchange for the European sea rescue community continues to grow with each passing year giving those involved friendships and memories that will last a lifetime.

The next Lifeboat Crew Exchange will be from 23rd to 30th September 2017! If you are interested in the Crew Exchange Project, and would like to know more about it and how you could be involved.

Photo Top: By Sebastian Ollandt of Finland