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Meet Fern Carver, volunteer at The Norwegian Sea Rescue Society (RS)
Fern Carver is originally from UK and have lived in Norway since the end of 2019. Her daily job is at Crossfit Mjøsa where she is Manager, Head Coach and Personal Trainer. Fern also run her own online personal training and programming business www.burnlikefern.com with clients all over the world.
Why do you volunteer at RS?
I chose to volunteer at RS Mjøsa, as I wanted to integrate into my new home and this felt a good way to meet new people, learn new skills and also help me towards my goal of working in the Fire Service. With the experience and training you get at RS it can be very rewarding and valuable for other areas of your life. I also like being out on the water, and this is a good chance to spend some time there.
How long have you been active in the organization?
I joined at the end of the 2019 and qualified as MATROS in 2020, so I can now be on shift and partake in missions.
What kind of training is required to become a crew member?
When you first join, you are initially an observer, then become an aspirant through certain LOKKS and e- learning. For example, jumping into the water and swimming around the boat and getting back in. Which can be a bit of a shock in the cold waters of Mjøsa. Luckily, the new Hansen protection suits keep you warm and dry, just your face that can get a little chilly. After becoming an aspirant and completing your LOKKS, like use of a fire pump, rescue equipment and learning how to do deck work and tow a boat etc, then you can take part in the MATROS course at RS Noatun in Horten. It is a 3 day course where you hone your skills, including deck work, first aid and physical tests like swimming 200m and testing out the Hansen protection suits in the indoor simulation pool. You also need to pass your boat driving license, your VHF, emergency radio and acute first aid / DHLR.
What does a “normal” day/shift look like as a RS Crew member?
As a volunteer we are usually signed up to shifts, night or daytime. So you are usually still at your job or at home and if there is an emergency you are called in, you have to be at base as soon as possible. We can also choose to stay at the base for our shift and do some training and mission practice, there is a place to sleep if you live further from the base. We set up our kit so that it's ready for us to go and we have to be able to get ready to go in under 2 mins. Because of COVID measures we have been on red level quite a lot, which unfortunately means we are not able to do as much training on the boat or out in the water as we would like.
What are the challenges about being a RS crew member?
Most probably the night shift, if you're not used to getting up at all hours or being on call. Also for new members it can seem challenging to learn all the skills and take in all the information. For me, having Norwegian as a second language and really just jumping in the deep end so to speak, it's been a challenge for sure, learning all the new words and occasionally being the only woman in a male dominated environment can make you feel the odd one out. But really, I have been only welcomed by them and given lots of opportunity to learn and encouragement. I am used to working in a traditionally male dominated fitness industry, so for me I think being a woman has given me an advantage to give another view to situations and tasks and that I have enough confidence to speak up and be confident in what I am saying has value. So, I would encourage more women to give it a go!
What is the best thing about being a part of RS?
All the new skills and experiences I have had. The people who I have met, who perhaps I would not have come into contact with on a day to day basis and the camaraderie.