As you can see from other articles in this newsletter and on our website, the IMRF is involved in many of today’s biggest SAR challenges, such as the ongoing disaster in the Mediterranean, and we count some of the world’s largest SAR organisations among our members. But the IMRF exists to promote maritime SAR in all parts of the world, and we are particularly keen to support small and start-up SAR organisations, who often work far from the media spotlight. Far too many people are drowning in the Mediterranean – but far, far too many people are dying in other places too.
Those trying to save them can be, and can feel, forgotten. The IMRF wants to make sure that doesn’t happen and – in the spirit of sharing – our large member organisations want to help their smaller partners. Which is largely what the IMRF is for.
IMRF Trustee Jorge Diena knows the importance of IMRF membership for the smaller SAR organisations. He writes:
As many of you know, I am a volunteer member of a small lifeboat organization in Uruguay. In this article I want to share with you the feeling many new and small organizations have, when they join the big and growing IMRF family. For many organizations that have been with the IMRF (or its predecessor, the ILF) from the beginning it is unthinkable not to be part of the Federation, but for the new and small ones it is often a dream come true.
When these organizations are allowed to be members of the IMRF, it means that the service they provide or seek to provide is recognized internationally and by their peers. IMRF membership confers status in their own society, and a powerful feeling of mutual support; that all the efforts made to build up and maintain their organization are finally bearing fruit.
One of the nicest moments I have as the IMRF Regional Coordinator for South America is when I present the IMRF plaque to the new member organizations in this area. The plaque is something tangible that constitutes their acceptance as part of the IMRF, and the duties and obligations that come with it. A whole new world opens to them! To have the possibility to learn from others, to share their own experience, to see that there is an impressive pool of knowledge out there, just an email away, is only a part of it.
The sense of belonging, and the pride that comes with having the IMRF plaque hanging in a prominent area of their rescue station, to be seen by their peers, is something I have witnessed in many organizations. I find it very difficult to express in words, but that sense of belonging – which may seem a little strange to colleagues in large member organizations – is of really great importance.
Some weeks ago I had the opportunity to hand over the IMRF plaque to our friends from ADES Venezuela (Asociación Voluntaria de Salvamento Acuático: the Volunteer Water Rescue Association of Venezuela – see https://twitter.com/adesvenezuela), who have been members of the IMRF but could not travel outside their country. In the picture you can see Mr. William Pelaez from ADES Venezuela (above) receiving the plaque.
He kindly presented me with their cap and tee-shirt in return. It was a very nice moment and the enthusiasm William had was impressive, talking about their plans and the way they are working with the local authorities.
To belong to the IMRF more often than not makes the difference in the service the smaller rescue institutions provide, with better and safer rescues. We welcome ADES Venezuela to the IMRF family, and we invite others to join us too. Make your dream come true!