RCMSAR Mill Bay Coxswain Chris Wickham recently took part in the International Maritime Rescue Federation’s Lifeboat Crew Exchange Programme, training for several days with the German Maritime Search and Rescue Service. Before he left Chris answered a few questions about his experience in RCMSAR and what he hopes to gain through the exchange for the region and his station.
When and why did you join RCMSAR?
I joined in November 2010. Our family has always held the value of service. We had recently moved to the area from the Gulf Islands and I was looking for a place to serve. After attending an information session during a recruitment drive my interest was sparked after members spoke about the training and the idea of being mission ready-from crew to craft to mission. And what made my decision was this statement: “The most important system is the crew system.” I was in. Oh, and I love mucking about in boats.
What sort of work do you do at the Regional Training Centre?
At the Regional Training Centre I work with Chief Instructor Francois Michaud as an assistant instructor in both the SAR 1 and SAR 2 simulator navigation courses. Most of my time is spent on the water putting into practice what has been taught in the class sessions and reviewed in the simulator. I also teach a couple of col reg. and nav. aid sessions. Moving into the fall I will be working with the team to support the new curriculum for the SAR skills and SAR nav. courses. This is a great fit for me, as I love seeing people challenged and growing personally and professionally, and our training centre is one of the great ways we do this in RCMSAR. I’m excited to see these new programs unfold and grow this winter.
What are you most looking forward to with the exchange?
I’m looking forward to so many things: experiencing different ideas, training methods, systems and equipment, meeting SAR members from so many countries and cultures, being on the Baltic on a SAR vessel (a new body of water for me), German food and maybe some authentic German beer.
What do you hope to gain from this experience?
It is hard for me to say for sure. I anticipate an opportunity to connect with coxswains from many different countries and through this am keen to learn of common practices or best practices as well as bringing home new or expanded methods/ideas for training. I know I’ll be challenged and that is exciting.
What do you hope to bring back to your station and the region in terms of skills and knowledge?
I have been well supported by RCMSAR as I became a coxswain. Many of the practices and foundational aspects of the programs I have experienced have been a reflection of past experiences that our own staff and members have brought home with them from similar times with the IMRF and its partnering countries. I hope to draw on this experience to continue to support and build on this rich history-and to be open to surprises.