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Tour of the RNLI Lifeboat College, Pool Print

Saturday 11th February 2012

I have to admit, when I first heard about the RNLI College I wondered what it did. I had wrongly assumed that training for lifeboat crews was in-house at the stations and on-the-job. How wrong was I? It was an eye opener to tour the RNLI College at Poole.

We had arranged a tour of the college for a Saturday morning and the tour was to last 90 minutes. I have to say as we turned the corner to park outside the college I was definitely surprised, a large purpose built building stood before us. Into the reception we all headed and awaited the arrival of our guides and a few stragglers.

We set off for the tour and I was happily surprised at the facilities, they are absolutely first class.  It was justified to us by our tour guide simply as "when our volunteers put their lives on the line, we have a duty to provide them with the absolute best equipment and training" I couldn't agree more with this statement and as an RNLI member it certainly meets my expectations.

ImageSo off on the tour we went, our first stop was simulators. There are a number of rooms here with an assortment of simulators but the star in the midst was the lifeboat simulator. The simulator is a room laid out in a similar fashion to a Severn class lifeboat, it's not an identical copy but I don't think that mattered too much.
ImageI have to admit I was quick off the mark to jump into the helmsman's seat and start trying to do doughnuts in a lifeboat. We had a brief simulation of a burning tanker and I was stunned by the realism, when our tour guide turned up the weather I think everyone in the room began to sway and brace themselves as we hit the virtual waves, a few even mention feeling quite queasy at times.

I have to say I could of 'played' in there all afternoon and would of kept asking them to turn 'up' the weather!

ImageOur next stop was the pool where all the sea survival training is done. You can imagine how a group of divers viewed a 4m deep pool, with wave machine and a couple of ribs on the side that could be launched into the pool. All we could do was look on and lament how much fun we could have in our scuba gear.

ImageWe were shown a video of how the facilities are used for training the lifeboat crews, including their sea-survival training and how to right the various inshore lifeboats. It was great to see the evolution of the life-jacket as well, having read some of the stories of the early rescues in open topped rowing boats I was impressed to see the life-jackets that would have been worn.

On around the college we went and our visit took in the accommodation floors and we got to see the rooms built for the volunteers to stay in while they are training at the centre. Again first class facilities and no different to the accommodation you would receive at a good hotel.

ImageThe final part of our tour took in the general training rooms which again showed the commitment of the RNLI to its volunteers. Many of us had a bit of a play in the first aid room with the various resus-dolls and a somewhat disconcerting skeleton hanging in the window.
Our tour finished up in the bar where many of us indulged in a pint of Lifeboat Ale and a sandwich.

The tour definitely left me wanting to see more of the college and its facilities but I can't rate the tour highly enough, its great to see the effort that has gone into these facilities and it really makes me proud that we have an institution such as this in this country supported by the general public.

Nick Fox
Tour Saturday 11th February 2012

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