Women behind the wellies on International Women’s Day
Poole Lifeboat Station has three very active females on the crew, Suzie, Rachel and Kitty and here they give an insight into what it is like being on the end of a pager ready to save lives.
Suzie joined Poole Lifeboat 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 warmed back up.’
On station Suzie is one of the prospective helms and is currently going through lots of competence based training but 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.’
One of the newest recruits to Poole Lifeboat Station is Kitty who joined the team in August. 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.
Kitty comments ‘I’m yet to go on my first shout, I am currently still in training and working my way through some basic competencies but still get to go afloat training. When the pager sounds I still respond with the rest of the crew and help launch the lifeboats and other shore based duties.’
It’s not only Suzie, Rachael and Kitty that are the wonder women at Poole Lifeboat Station. Behind the scenes we have a host of other influential women volunteers including a volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer, an Administration Officer, Treasurer, Visits Officer and not forgetting all the partners of the crew that often get stood up when the pager sounds.