RNLI volunteers to test their skills in stateside training exercise (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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RNLI volunteers from the North-East to test their skills in stateside training exercise
A PAIR of RNLI volunteers are heading stateside to train alongside a US fire department in a major flood rescue exercise.
Coxswain Robbie Maiden, from Hartlepool and senior helmsman Mike Picknett, from Redcar, will travel to North Carolina at the end of this month where they will be testing the RNLI’s deployment process and logistics, equipment and working overseas.
RNLI Flood Rescue Team members are all either serving volunteer lifeboat crew members or operational RNLI staff who volunteer to be a part of the team.
Mr Maiden, who joined the flood rescue team in 2004, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity and a once in a lifetime experience to work with the Charlotte Fire Department, who led the rescue operation in New Orleans after Hurricane Catrina in 2005 and are the Centre of Excellence in the USA for flood and fast water rescue.”
The cost of organising a large-scale exercise is being borne by Charlotte Fire Department and North Carolina Emergency Department, meaning the RNLI need only fund its own travel, fuel and food – the cost of which would be the same to carry out the exercise in Scotland.
Mr Picknett, who joined the team in 2011, said: “The international exercise is a fantastic opportunity to exchange skills and develop partnerships with our American colleagues in a testing and realistic environment.
“I am looking forward to putting into practice the specialist skills we have all developed as part of the UK Flood Rescue Team in an international context where we can experience everything a real deployment will throw at us.”
The RNLI’s International Flood Rescue Team (iFRT) was formed in 2000 following the Mozambique floods of the same year where some 10,000 people were helped. The team is available to be tasked to any incident of inland flooding anywhere in the world within 24 hours.
Robin Goodlad, flood response manager at the RNLI, said: “The opportunity to train alongside these globally-respected organisations who have had experience at numerous major flood events will be of huge benefit to the RNLI. Similarly, we will bring our 190 years of water rescue expertise to share with our US counterparts.”
People can keep up to date with the trip with photos and videos posted on the RNLI’s Twitter feed, @RNLI, during the exercise.
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