Newcastle Lifeboat station consists of approximately 30 local volunteers and all come from a broad range of backgrounds. They range from Bus drivers, builders, electricians, to name but a few but, all have one common goal:
To provide a 24-hour lifeboat search and rescue service to save lives at Sea.
The minimum age to join the lifeboat crew is 17 (with parental consent). The upper age limit has been extended for inshore lifeboat crew to 55 and the All-Weather Lifeboat crew to 65
The effectiveness of all lifeboat station is only as good as the expertise of its personnel whether they be Operations, Shore or Boat Crew. A lifeboat can’t go to sea if it doesn’t have a trained crew. Similarly, a lifeboat can’t be launched if there isn’t a trained shore team to actually launch the lifeboat and, to choreograph all this plus the day to day operations of the lifeboat station is the operations team – without whom we wouldn’t exist!
On-going training is therefore an integral part of station life which does place considerable demands on personnel over and above normal service calls. Nowadays, with most RNLI crew not coming from a maritime background, training has been standardised by the RNLI in what is known as ‘Competency Based Training’ (CoBT)
The RNLI CoBT framework breaks each role/plan down into specific unit tasks. When a member has been designated a specific role or Plan (initially designated as a training development plan), he/she studies and learns the relevant unit tasks and once they feel confident they are proficient in the particular unit, they are assessed by an RNLI Divisional Assessor Trainer (DAT) and is successful, there are recorded as ‘Competent’ on their training Plan.
At Newcastle Lifeboat station there is a full-time Mechanic. His responsibilities are to ensure the boat is always maintained and ready to go to sea in any weather conditions, with a fully trained crew to response to a person or vessel in distress.
Training nights are usually a Thursday from 1900hrs. During summer month or specific occasions, a Saturday or Sunday exercise may be planned. Once a month, an Ops meeting takes place followed by a crew meeting to discuss issues raised during the previous month and to outline upcoming events and rotas etc.