Wells crew's virtual rescue - in Wales!

A “man overboard” emergency on the other side of the country is not usually something the Wells lifeboat crew would expect to deal with.But when they got the call on Wednesday night, the rescue team responded - without ever leaving dry land.

A “man overboard” emergency on the other side of the country is not usually something the Wells lifeboat crew would expect to deal with.

But when they got the call on Wednesday night, the rescue team responded - without ever leaving dry land.

It is because they were dealing with a computer-simulated scenario in a �140,000 RNLI mobile training unit, aimed at instructing potential navigators in the use of radar and global positioning systems (GPS).

On the last night of a seven-day course, six trainees navigated through a 3D image of Milford Haven harbour in Wales and used simulated radar signals and charts to locate their casualty.


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Before the mobile unit was introduced three years ago, lifeboat volunteers had to make the

long trip to the RNLI College in Dorset.

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RNLI instructor Peter White said he could now give trainees the confidence to use their on-board systems without taking up valuable time on call-outs and exercises.

“Using these units allows us to bring training to the coast so you don't have to take the men out of their homes and work to train them,” he said.

“These trainees have almost gone from zero to hero - from having no knowledge to having so much that the coxswain can rely on them to do the job we want them to do, which is to save lives at sea.”

The technology-laden trailer, one of only two covering the UK, will now be taken around the coast to train rescue teams at Sheringham, Cromer and Lowestoft.

It contains four replica lifeboat “bridges” - each with radar, GPS and computer screens - which can be used to duplicate conditions at ports and harbours around the UK.

Lifeboat coxswain Allen Frary oversaw the training of his crew while the unit was parked at Wells Community Hospital.

He said: “We only go on exercise once a fortnight and if we are on a shout you don't want lads training on the GPS and the radar because we might need it. If anything goes wrong in here it is not going to affect the ability of the lifeboat.”

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