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Lifeguard Operations Manager Stewart Seini was invited to the United Kingdom by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution on an information sharing trip.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is to Ireland and the UK what the NSRI is to South Africa: a 24/7 search and rescue lifeboat service run, where possible, by volunteers and funded by voluntary donations.

“The aim was to share information regarding our processes and operations, to learn from each other, incorporate procedures that we find suitable, and build operational procedures together endorsed by both organisations,” says Seini.

He spent the first week at the training and support centre in Poole, a large coastal town and seaport in Dorset, on the south coast of England, where he attended the lifeguard operational leadership course (which may be incorporated at the NSRI in the near future), and met with the different lifeguarding departments such as human resources, the statistics department, contracting, lifeguard management, training, medical care and procurement departments.

“Each of these meetings provided in-depth information into each department and how they operate, and gave me the opportunity to share how we operate in each aspect,” says Seini. “There are a lot of similarities in how we do things, but also some big differences from both ends, which we are currently sharing information about to incorporate the aspects that we find applicable.”

In any rescue organisation, it’s important to have external organisations reviewing your processes and procedures to ensure there is consensus or evidence to support what you are doing. The RNLI will review the NSRI’s lifeguarding procedures and vice versa. Seini also spent a significant amount of time with the training department as they ran through different lifeguard courses.

“These courses aren’t to train up new lifeguards, but to increase the leadership skills and professionalism of the lifeguards to operate as RNLI lifeguards. These courses will be introduced to the NSRI lifeguards and certain changes will be made to our current training.”

The two organisations are also collaborating on an advanced lifeguarding course, which will be based around the current NSRI surf rescue swimmer qualification - this qualification will be endorsed by both organisations.

The second part of the trip was spent visiting various RNLI lifeguarded beaches and lifeguard support centres. “We were able to get first-hand experience and information on their beach operation, kit and equipment, and compare it to how we operate,” says Seini.

“The NSRI lifeguards have a world-class reporting app designed and developed in-house, which we will be making available to the RNLI and lifeguarding organisations around the world. Conversely, their lifeguard operation simulator, which can be used to train leadership and responses to critical incidents, has been made available to us and we plan on introducing this into our lifeguard leadership training.”

Trips such as these, to learn from and share with best-in-the-world international rescue organisations, result in essential upgrades, improvements and endorsements, and ensure that the NSRI continues to implement the most efficient rescue operations and strategies.

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