Wednesday, October 18, 2017

H.E.R.O. Awards are a Reminder of the Dangers Seafarers Face Daily

Bravery and Contributions to Rescue at Sea Rewarded
Shipping News Feature
UK – WORLDWIDE – Just occasionally, amongst the standard press releases regarding new premises for a freight forwarding group, or revised road haulage regulations, we receive something that, when properly researched, conjures up genuine emotion. Such is the case when we investigated the stories behind the nominations for this year's H.E.R.O. Awards run by the International Maritime Rescue Federation (IMRF), plaudits given to exceptional characters performing even more exceptional acts of selflessness in the field of maritime search and rescue.

There are four categories in the IMRF H.E.R.O Awards 2017 and every one contains instances of exceptional individuals and organisations who go above and beyond any reasonable expectations. This is particularly true in the Individual award category, sponsored by 8 West Consulting/SafeTrx, and which recognises an outstanding contribution by a single person in a maritime SAR operation.

There are two finalists in this section, both brave men who performed indisputably heroic acts in the face of mortal danger. Anton Tasanen for his skilled and brave rescue of a crewmember overboard using the vessels mooring winch in rough seas near Finland, during which he suffered severe injuries, and Ray Burge for his lifesaving actions which saved a husband far offshore in poor conditions and his quick thinking and local knowledge which led to the subsequent rescue of the man’s wife, also swept away in strong currents and heavy seas in New Zealand.

The Team award, sponsored by Orolia/McMurdo, recognises an outstanding contribution by a team or teams in the maritime SAR ecosystem working together to save lives, and this year’s finalists are the National Sea Rescue Institute WaterWise Academy in South Africa, which teaches disadvantaged children about water safety educating approximately 330,000 children each year, and MOAS (the Migrant Offshore Aid Station) based in Malta. MOAS has been nominated for its tireless work over the Easter weekend, with scenes many will remember, when it rescued over 1,800 desperate people from woefully inadequate boats in the Mediterranean.

The Innovation and Technology award, sponsored by Pole Star, recognises new products and technologies developed that improve the work and success of SAR organisations. The two finalists are the RNLI Future Leaders Project Team 2016, nominated for their programme which focuses on new and developing search and rescue organisations around the world, helping to build individual and organisational leadership. They are up against the MAR-SimNET Project, an interlinked simulator for maritime disasters which incorporates, for the very first time, the needs of the different stakeholders involved in a complex search and rescue operation. The project provides inter-organisational training for all involved, from maritime rescue coordination centres to coastal radio stations, SAR vessels and SAR helicopters overhead.

Inmarsat sponsors the final category, the Vladimir Maksimov Lifetime Achievement award, which recognises outstanding service to SAR by an individual or organisation. The finalists for this award are Branko Rameša from the Croatian Search and Rescue, Croatia, and ADES (the Association of Maritime and River Rescue of Uruguay) with special recognition for the outstanding voluntary work undertaken by Captain Ramón Sagüés and Engineer Otto Vicente Muzzio to establish and develop this pioneering SAR institution.

With almost 40 years of SAR experience, Mr. Branko has demonstrated his bravery time and time again, dedicating his life to saving lives at sea. While Captain Ramón Sagüés and Engineer Otto Vicente Muzzio worked as pioneering volunteers in Uruguay to help build the exemplary search and rescue institution that is ADES today.

The winners of the IMRF H.E.R.O. Awards 2017 will be announced at an awards dinner held at the RNLI College, Poole in the UK and online, on 2 November 2017. IMRF Chairman and Trustee, Udo Fox commented:

"We have received nominations from around the world and we would like to thank all those who entered an individual or organisation for an award. There were many, many extremely worthy candidates and organisations doing inspiring work. We would also like to thank the judges for their deliberations and for deciding on the list of finalists, which we are proud to announce today."

Members of the public, SAR professionals and anyone from the maritime industry are encouraged to visit the website, to read more about the finalists and to vote for the People's Choice H.E.R.O. Award - full details of how to vote for the People's Choice H.E.R.O. Award will be released shortly. There will also be a Local IMRF H.E.R.O. 2017 Award given to local SAR H.E.R.O.s, nominated by the event's hosts the RNLI.

The IMRF H.E.R.O. Awards 2017 judges are Michael Vlasto OBE, former RNLI Operations Director, Nigel Clifford, General Manager Safety and Response Maritime New Zealand, Chris Loizou, Chief Business Development Officer Orolia/McMurdo, France, and António Duarte, Monteiro Cape Verde, National Search and Rescue Coordination President, Cape Verde.

Photo: A helicopter approaches the cruise ship Le Boréal off the Falkland Islands in November 2015 during her mass evacuation. 78 people were winched by helicopters from the ship’s deck and her life rafts. 258 more, aboard Le Boréal’s two lifeboats, were recovered by a sister ship after the boats had been escorted to sheltered waters. No one was seriously injured during the incident thanks to the competence and coordination of the rescue services.