Learning from Experience – the IMRF’s Role Recognised by the IMO

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‘Learning from experience’ is the title of our fourth mass rescue operations conference, to be held in Sweden in June: see www.imrfmro.org/homeg4. But it’s not just in such challenging situations that we can usefully learn from each other. And the IMRF is an internationally recognised means of facilitating that learning process.

There is great value in disseminating SAR information – including lessons learned in SAR incidents, accidents, exercises and drills – as widely as possible, so that SAR service personnel can learn from others’ experience and ideas and improve their own preparedness. Why, as they say, reinvent the wheel..?

According to our Articles of Association the IMRF’s objects are “to prevent loss of life, to promote safety and to provide relief from disaster at sea and on inland waters throughout the world by […]:

promoting cooperation, exchange of information, research and development, advice and consultancy between maritime search and rescue services of the world;
encouraging and promoting the formation and development of maritime search and rescue services throughout the world; and
promoting public education and awareness regarding safety on water.”

Dissemination of lessons learned and other information of use to the SAR community is thus a primary purpose of the IMRF, and sharing information in this way is an excellent way of encouraging SAR development globally.

The IMRF fulfils this function by circulating information to our members, directly and in LIFE LINE, and by placing information on our websites. The great majority of this information is made available on an open-source basis, funded by the IMRF’s member organisations and by charitable grants and donations.
Now the IMRF has been formally recognised by the International Maritime Organization as an important information source.

The IMO is the United Nations’ technical body with responsibility for maritime safety and marine pollution prevention. The IMRF, as a non-governmental organisation with consultative status at the IMO, represents the maritime SAR community at this level.

In March the IMO’s Sub-Committee on Navigation, Communications and Search and Rescue (NCSR) recommended that the IMRF’s information-sharing resources should be used by IMO Member States to help disseminate SAR lessons learned and other information of use to the SAR community. (For more information about NCSR’s other work at its March meeting, please see ‘The IMO considers SAR in London’.)

We very much welcome this endorsement and will be reviewing our structures to ensure that they are fit for this purpose – receiving information and sharing it as agreed with its provider, easily and efficiently, and to the benefit of SAR people (and their ‘customers’) worldwide.

The world’s leading source of globally-agreed SAR guidance is the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (IAMSAR) Manual: you can buy copies at a discount at www.imrfbookshop.org. Volume I of the Manual is dedicated to SAR organisation and management, including the development of SAR services. It is intended that the IMRF’s contact details will be added to the list of information sources in this Volume when its next edition is published in 2019.

In the meantime, if you have something about SAR that you would like to share – experience, new developments, initiatives or questions – please do not hesitate to contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. And you can visit our website – www.international-maritime-rescue.org – to find all the information that has already been shared.

Remember: it’s good to talk!

Contact Info

International Maritime Rescue Federation
50 Allardice Street
AB39 2RA
United Kingdom

Telephone: +44 (0) 1569 767405

E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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