Erasmus+ at sea with the RNLI
This case study was originally published on the Erasmus+ UK website in October 2015.
Maritime emergency search and rescue services (MESR) are provided free of charge to those in need, preventing loss of life in European waters and beyond. The volunteers who dedicate their time are relied upon for their lifesaving skills and expertise.
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution, (RNLI), has been involved in coordinating and participating in both Erasmus+ and its predecessor EU programmes. More recently, they have been successful in receiving funding for their adult education Key Action 1 Erasmus+ project Lifeboat Crew Exchange Europe. With RNLI operating the coastlines of the British Isles, the project provides a unique experience to volunteers to take part in a life-saving exchange programme with fellow lifeboat volunteers from across Europe.
The Erasmus+ project intends to help enhance the collaboration between MESR organisations in Europe, using the opportunity to develop Search and Rescue (SAR) training. In total, seven partner organisations are involved in the project, bringing with them valuable knowledge and key skills that have been passed on from as far back as 1824.
Partner organisations include the German Maritime Search and Rescue Association (DGzRS), The Danish Coastal Rescue Service (DRCS), The Icelandic Coast Guard (ICE-SAR), The Finnish Lifeboat Institution (FLBI), Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution, Swedish Sea Rescue Society and NSSR, a humanitarian organisation based in Norway.
One volunteer who has taken part in an exchange is Rhyl based RNLI crew member Callum Robinson, who travelled to Oslo in Norway as part of the IMRF Crew Exchange Programme:
“I was surprised but also proud to be chosen to represent the RNLI on the Lifeboat Exchange programme. I really enjoyed meeting crews from the other countries, as we had the same interests in sea rescue we all became good friends quickly. It was interesting learning how similar in places our organisations are but also we have so many major differences too.”
“I found the exchange extremely helpful and enjoyable. I learnt many new skills, and how to use equipment we already have in different ways…”
In 2013 and 2014 the RNLI and its partners also led a Leonardo Partnerships project. The project implemented a ‘smart specialisation’ strategy, which brought together each country’s characteristic specialisation to the project. From different types of rescues each MESR service performs to techniques and equipment used by volunteers, participants were able to share their knowledge and experience. As well as presentations from each organisation, the hands-on approach enabled volunteers to participate in numerous land and sea exercises, night time search and rescue, firefighting, first aid, escape training and helicopter winching.
The Erasmus+ project will provide an incentive to develop the volunteers’ skills and will also encourage them to continue to give their time and energy to SAR activities.