Lifeboats Where There Are None: Day 3 – “The Deep End”

“We’re gonna throw you in the deep end,” said one of the instuctures yesterday in reference to what we would be doing today.

Today was likely one of the more anticipated days for the majority of the people here taking this course. It was our first day “seagoing”, the first time we got into the boats and got into the water. Prior to this, it’s all been medical stuff.

Directly after breakfast this morning, the team was divided into four groups and two of the groups were sent to the water first. We suited up into our wetsuits and helmets, and then were introduced to the many different lifeboats that exist at this school for training purposes. We were divided up into the boats. Each boat had three students, except for mine. I thought I drew the short end of the stick by only having two people in my boat, but it turns out I’ll just get more individual attention, so it’ll work in my favor over the course of the week.

My partner and I both have zero experience with rescuing people at sea. In fact, neither of us really have boat experience. She’s been on sailboats before, but nothing with a motor. As we were told about the boat we were about to be cruising across the open sea in, I did my best to, once again, have my brain on hyper drive. I just didn’t want to miss anything about what was going on in front of me. I paid very close attention. One by one, we brought the boats down the long slipway as a team, lowering them slowly on tethered ropes. When we reached the sea, we guided the boats into the waves and fought our ways onto the vessels when prompted by the instructor. The next thing we knew, we were off, crashing our way through the notoriously choppy Welsh waters.

As we picked up speed, and I found myself clinging to the ropes on the boat, unaware of how stable my seating was, I just thought, “screw you, comfort zone.”

I’ll be seagoing each day for the next week, so I’ll do my best to write in more detail at a later point about what it’s like to be on the water. I did get a chance to drive the boat today though, which was cool.

After lunch, my group and I had a three hour session on tying knots and throwing ropes and line and then did yet another scenario with Casualty Care. I was in the role of “first arrival” on the scene and had to patch up someone’s head. The instructors said I did better than anyone else in the same scenario for the day. I found this rather unbelievable, but maybe I’m retaining some information!

After dinner, we were given two lectures. The first was about the disastrous situation in the Southern Mediterranean Sea and all of the people dying there due to horrendous European Union bureaucracy, and the second was about recognizing the signs of and coping with PTSD. It was a long day, but I’m so grateful for all of this information being thrown at me.

To bed.

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