Women behind the wellies at Poole Lifeboat Station on International Women's Day
Poole Lifeboat Station has a long history behind it spanning over a 150 years and saving countless lives. The saving lives continues to be the main ethos still but where crews were predominantly men it's not unusual to see women donning the traditional yellow dry suits.
Poole Lifeboat Station has 13 women volunteers on station who all play their part to help save lives at sea.
Of the 13, six of them actively go out to rescue others when the call comes in while others play an equally important role on the shore. Of the shorebased volunteer roles we have Lifeboat Medical Advisors, Administration Officer, Lifeboat Press Officer, Treasurer and a Visits Officer.
Suzie joined as crew in 2012 and having come from a family who loved sailing always wanted to join the crew as a youngster after holidays to the coast down at Selsey.
Suzie is no stranger to helping people as in her day job as she is a qualified physiotherapist specialising in respiratory care working in the local hospital. Helping critically ill people at work certainly gives her confidence in dealing with medical scenarios at sea.
Having completed many service calls since 2012 one sticks in Suzie's mind after a kayaker was pulled from the water in Poole Bay. Suzie recalls 'it was dusk as the pager sounded and when I arrived at the lifeboat station we were told it was a kayaker thought to be in trouble and waving for help. We arrived and found the man clinging to his upturned kayak, he'd been in the water sometime but luckily someone saw him and dialled 999. We pulled him onboard and it was obvious he was extremely cold. On this occasion the rescue helicopter had also been tasked so we prepared him for the air lift and he was whisked away to hospital. He went on to be discharged later that night once he'd been re-warmed.'
On station Suzie is a newly passed out helm and has gone through lots of competence based training with a focus on commanding the crew in a variety of challenging scenarios and weather conditions.
Rachael had always been keen to join the crew but had previously lived to far away to respond so when she moved closer in 2015 Rachael jumped at the chance to join the crew and give back to the community. Being on the pager her friends need to be understanding when she may stand them up at a moments notice. In her first year Rachael recalls ‘my first summer the pager sounded 33 times in one month, it seems relentless’.
In her day job Rachael also works for the RNLI at the HQ based in Poole as a Station Ceremonies Manager so has probably visited more stations than most people.
Having been on many service calls herself now Rachael said ‘no two service calls are ever the same, we see a wide breadth of shouts at the station and often it reminds you the importance of loved ones either from who you have helped on the service to the people you return to afterward.’
Kitty who joined the crew in August 2017. Kitty originally got involved with the RNLI gaining a job at Poole HQ as part of the Operations Support Team which helps support all 238 Lifeboat Stations, Lifeguards, Flood Rescue teams and Community Safety to name a few. Having learnt lots about the RNLI in her day job Kitty decided to volunteer at Poole.
Of the shorebased roles, the station has 4 Volunteer Lifeboat Medical Advisors (LMA). Emma, a GP by day joined the team in 2017 and said ‘my primary role is working alongside the other three LMA’s and we regularly ensure crew medicals are up to date and ensure fitness standards are met so they can be on call. As well as this we provide regular casualty care training scenarios both shore based and afloat so when a real call comes in they are as prepared as possible.
Without the dedication of all these volunteers we certainly wouldn’t be able to save lives at sea.
Notes to editors
• Poole Lifeboat Station has thirteen female volunteers
• Poole Lifeboat Station was established in 1865
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.