Sunday Training with RNLI Hastings

This week’s training down at the Pett Beach boathouse was one where everything came together to result in a fantastic session!

First up, the weather was fabulous and conditions calm and fair. As planned, the Pulfer boat was launched but instead of a training session involving our other boat, we were invited to a joint training session with the Hastings RNLI crew.

Both teams met up with boats just off the Fairlight cliffs end of the coast. Much as we love their Shannon boat, it was great to see that the RNLI Hastings were using their smaller inshore rescue boat for the training session. This meant that both teams were able to practice alongside a comparably sized boat.

For approximately an hour we all worked together across different assistance and rescue scenarios:
  • Towing –  this activity included getting tow lines across to the other boat and, where necessary, ensuring that the other team was able to attach the tow line successfully.
  • Man overboard – there were a couple of Impromptu man overboard tasks to help rehearse recovering a person from the sea.
  • Running alongside – this is great practice for the helms of both boats as it involves travelling at speed and being able to manoeuvre one boat alongside another at the same speed. 

The RNLI Hastings team certainly kept our crews on their toes across the training, by adding scenarios into the activities. For instance, at one stage pretending there was no one able to attach the tow to their boat. In response, one of our trainees had to transfer across to do this for them, something which is quite probable in an assistance scenario where the person available to receive the rope may not be capable to attaching the tow.

In all, the session was highly successful. It really was a great training opportunity and very valuable to us to be able to practice manoeuvres with another team and boat.

As local Shouts often involve all local teams working alongside each other, it’s also particularly beneficial to practice working with the RNLI, especially as we’re currently right at the start of what could be a very busy season down at the beach. Thanks to everyone involved for making this training such a success.

 

No Launch But Plenty of Practice

This Sunday, the weather was wet and a little windy, but compared to the recent thrashing from Storm Erik, the whole beach seemed remarkably calm. However, the point of the tide at the time of training and the fact that further high winds were predicted, meant that we focused on ‘dry’ training.

Of course, ‘dry’ training still involves a certain amount of getting wet! Kev mobilised our recovery vehicle, to take the boat to a few different locations and environments on the beach (shingle and sand) so that the teams could practice supporting the recovery of the boat into the trailer from the different surfaces of the beach, as shown:

Pett Level Independent Rescue Boat, Sunday training, beach recoveryPett Level Independent Rescue Boat, Sunday training, beach recoveryPett Level Independent Rescue Boat, Sunday training, beach recovery

Training then moved indoors as base and boat crews spent time with our first aid kits. There are three good reasons why it’s important for us to do this:

  • For those of us who completed first aid training last summer, it’s useful to revisit everything in the kits.
  • For those who have not yet completed first aid training, seeing what’s in the kits is useful pre-training and familiarisation.
  • It’s good-practice to check through the first aid kits to check that everything is present and in-date.

Then training moved onto knot-practice for volunteers who still need to rehearse this as part of their training, whilst essential maintenance on the vehicles was carried out by our mechanic volunteers. Other trainees were also given GPS training, as knowing the techniques as well as the technology is also a vital part of success at sea.

Then it was time for a debrief and planning for future training. The next one’s coming around soon as we’ve also got mid-week training during the coming week – with our re-visit to RNLI Hastings on Thursday 14th (yes, a real save-the-date moment with our RNLI colleagues). We’re looking forward to this, particularly seeing their wonderful Shannon boat, and will update on here to share how the training goes.

We’re also planning another night-training session in the next few weeks, tide, moon and weather permitting. After such a long winter, it’s strange to now be trying to schedule this in for this month or the very start of March before the clocks change again!

In all, it was a busy morning at the boat house, with plenty going on and a considerable amount of planning for future work. If you’d like to be a part of it all, please contact us.

A Fine Day for Fixing & Keeping the Rescue Boat Afloat

As you can see from the photo, this Sunday we had a beautiful morning for training. The low tide and fair conditions meant that the beach was just beautiful –  or at least it was at 9 a.m. when the photo was taken! The same couldn’t really be said for later in the day.

As far as work to do and training is concerned, this time of year it tends to be quieter for us. As an independent rescue boat though, we have to do all our own mechanical maintenance so thankfully our volunteers who are also professional mechanics were able to take the time to carry out much-needed maintenance to our boats and launch vehicle*, so that we remain shout-ready whatever the time of year.

So, our launch vehicle has been topped up with fluids and greased and our large boat has had its radio fixed. This was a longer job than anticipated as the radio had to be removed, sent away for repairs and then refitted to the boat. Then of course it’s a case of ensuring everything is water-proofed and ship shape ready for the boat’s next outing.

Of course, our volunteer crew trainees weren’t forgotten, as a bright but brisk day offered the chance to get our trainees out in the cold and used to some of the harsher conditions we operate in. Trainees are all at different stages, with all working their way through the training schedule and being put through their paces with the various skills and tasks needed to be competent in the boat and in rescue situations.

This week, towing procedures continued to be an ongoing focus, as many trainees still need to get signed off on these skills. There was also a chance to look at flares and how they are used in accordance with safety and search protocols.

* If you’d like to know what’s happening with our reserve launch vehicle, please check out our GoFundMe Reserve Launch Vehicle page, which is where you’ll find the latest update.

And don’t forget, if you’re looking for a volunteer role which offers a way to help others in 2019, come and talk to us down at the boat house on a Sunday morning between 9 and 12, or contact us through the website or our social media. Even if you don’t feel you have the ‘sea legs’ for it, there are plenty of other tasks for base crew, or committee and support roles, so do stop by to share your skills and time with us. 

A New Year of Training and Beach Safety Begins

A very Happy New Year to all of our visitors and supporters! Hard to believe we’re already a couple of training sessions into the new year, with both boats taking to the water!

Yes, our in-house crew training for 2019 has already got off to a flying start. OK, so that should be ‘floating’ but sometimes there’s a need for speed, which means our boats can literally be flying over the waves, as the header photo shows. 

*This photo was contributed by friend of the PLIRB, Gordon Butchers, who happened to see our training from the shore. Thanks for sharing Gordon!*

Our current focus for training in January is supporting trainees to learn techniques for rigging up tows and ensuring safe interactions between boats. Having two boats means we’re able to practice long tows, longside jumps from boat to boat, and management of the boat and crew positioning when moving alongside to other vessels.

This is vital training of techniques used when we’re involved in supporting a vessel which is drifting. It also offers essential opportunities to practice the transfer of our crew across to a stricken vessel so that first aid support can be given as needed. Towing a vessel is a surprisingly common call-out for us, so getting our trainees fully competent in all aspects of this type of rescue is a priority.

low tide double boat launch, training, beach rescueLow tide double boat launchLow tide double boat launch, rescue boatlow tide double boat launch, beach safetyLow tide boat recovery, rescue boat

Although our launch photos show a beautiful low tide, this type of training and rescue is extremely seasonal as we prepare for those unpredictably high spring tides and weather conditions. Already there are predictions of snow towards the end of the month and possibly into February, and where there’s significant snow there’s also the high risk of surface water and river flooding when the snow starts to melt.

With this in mind, all of our volunteers – established and trainees – train regularly so that we can be assistance-ready if our inshore services are needed in the event of inshore flooding, as well as for our offshore rescue support.

So, if it’s your new year resolution to get actively involved in supporting a community charity, don’t forget it’s easy to contact us through this website or our Twitter and Facebook threads, to find out more about volunteering with us in 2019.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo was contributed by friend of the PLIRB, Graham Butchers, who happened to see our training from the shore. Thanks for sharing Graham!

 

Today’s training – maintenance mode

Despite a weather forecast which predicted winds and rain, we’ve had a beautiful day again down at the boat house this Sunday, with a superb low tide giving a fantastic coastal view

 

 

Much as we’d love to have been out on the water, vital maintenance was needed for the recovery vehicle winch and the trailer. These and other tasks around the boat were necessary, so the crew moved into maintenance mode for the morning.

To get started, this meant beaching the boat so that the trailer and launch vehicle could be freed up for the work in hand.

Now although a morning spent ‘doing jobs’ on the vehicles and around the boat house may not sound like the most exciting way to spend a morning – and definitely not as thrilling as being out on the boat – the truth is, having willing hands around to help with these essential tasks is what keeps us afloat here: if the equipment and services aren’t ship shape, then it’s impossible for us to serve the community effectively, so we work hard to make sure everything is as it should be.

And speaking of community, we had extra visitors today, all of whom came along to see if they’d like to get involved. Each visitor had a chance to see what goes on here in general, but also good that everyone could see that there are less than exciting tasks to be done, but still plenty of teamwork.

So if you have any skills you’d like to share or start to develop with us, or would like to see what we’re all about, then please come along or get in touch!

The first training for October – two scenarios, plenty of practice!

It was a beautiful day down at the boat house yesterday, although the sea had a real swell with the incoming tide.  With this backdrop, there was a real focus on putting recent and ongoing training into practice with boat-based scenarios.

Although the weather was fine, the launch of the boat was slightly challenging due to the slope and flats of the beach shingle, level of the surf and the rolling tide. 

rescue boat launchRescue boat launch, incoming tiderescue boat launch, tractor, trailer

However, the level of the tide and the swell of the water offered a good opportunity to target casualty retrieval, plus locating and assessing unidentified objects in the water, as continued practice in:

  • Using GPS and co-ordinates.
  • Effective radio and communication skills.
  • Helping trainees to learn the logistics of working together.
  • Management of the boat in the swell of the water, in order to safely manage dropping off the crew and retrieving the casualty.
  • Boat and safety awareness for crew moving between the boat and water, and back again.
  • Putting recent first aid training into practice.
  • Crew management of the stretcher and casualty – maneuvering safely onto the stretcher and then getting the stretcher onto the boat and then crew back onto boat without incident – all of which was quite difficult to do with such a swell on the water.

And of course all of this is essential practice because it’s the time of year when conditions in the water tend to be not only cold, but also pretty wild.


First up, the crews managed casualty retrieval using Ruth, our body dummy.

Casualty retrievalCasualty retrieval Ruth

Then the crews moved into a second training scenario: the suspicious object in the water training. To approach a suspicious object, the approach of the boat is extremely important, keeping the suspicious object down wind in case there is any substance likely to blow into the boat. Once the boat is safely positioned, crew can then observe and assess the object, with the aim of identifying if it is likely to be a dangerous substance. After identifying any poison markings, the information is radioed back to base, reading out phonetically.

This was all for training purposes, but when this type of incident happens for real coastguards / bomb disposal would have been alerted. In fact, these unidentified substances do occur in this area. Previously down here at Pett beach there was an incident of an unidentified substance, previous episode of substance smoking and bubbling in the sand. Crew investigated, patch of frothy orange, possibly a battery deteriorating.

Crew debrief showed that it was a good training day because new members of the team were challenged in the different situations and all crew members had the chance to work together with others they may not have worked with previously. As always, the beach and the sea also present an ever-changing challenge, even on a relatively calm day, which makes every practice and call-out situation unique. All of which means training is essential, especially across these two scenarios as these situations are two of the most common call-outs for us along here, and it’s all part of our work to try and help others enjoy these beaches safely.

If you’re interested in joining in us as a volunteer, please get in touch!