Michael Vlasto is the lead judge on the panel of judges for the IMRF (International Maritime Rescue Federation) Awards 2019 and he has been discussing what makes an entry stand out, as the closing date – Sunday 30 June - for the IMRF Awards 2019 gets closer.
"The IMRF Awards really do matter because they attract vital public attention and focus to the excellent lifesaving work that's being done all around the world by maritime search and rescue (SAR) organisations. That attention then helps those organisations to secure the funding and resources they need to go on saving more lives at sea," he explains.
He adds that: "There are many considerations that the judges take into account with each entry, but the key factor is the overall contribution that those nominated for the Awards have made, either to a specific rescue or to the way that their organisation carries out SAR operations."
"In the Lifetime Achievement category, it's the impact that the individual has had on maritime SAR over a long period and their resulting legacy, whilst in the Innovation and Technology category, it's very often the very simplest of ideas that can have the greatest influence on how many lives can be saved more effectively and safely in the future."
With more than forty years of experience working in front line maritime search and rescue around the coast of Britain, Michael Vlasto's last professional SAR role was as Operations Director for the Royal National Lifeboat Institute. In this role, his responsibilities covered more than 230 lifeboat stations, 160 lifeguard units and over 5,500 volunteer crew members, lifeguards and full-time staff.
Over the course of his career, Michael says that advances in technology have had the biggest impact on SAR operations – particularly the ability to be able to locate a casualty through enhanced communications, location devices and GPS/satellite systems.
This, together with developments in rescue vessels and equipment have combined to significantly reduce the risks for those carrying out the rescue and has vastly improved the success rate in terms of lives saved.
Today the IMRF has 110 members in more than 50 countries, and nominations for the IMRF Awards come from all around the world. Michael speaks for the whole of the IMRF when he says: "A life saved is a life saved, regardless of geography."
The IMRF Awards 2019 offer a chance to recognise incredible people, new innovations and technologies that make saving lives at sea possible, even in the most difficult and demanding circumstances. The four categories are:
Individual: For Outstanding Individual Contribution to a Maritime SAR Operation
Team: For Outstanding Team Contribution to a Maritime SAR Operation
Innovation & Technology: For Innovation and Technology in the field of Maritime SAR
Lifetime Achievement: The Vladimir Maksimov Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Maritime SAR Sector
Nominations can be submitted online, or by post and the closing date is Sunday 30 June 2019. Visit www.international-maritime-rescue.org for more details and to submit a nomination.
The winners will be announced on 10 September as part of London International Shipping Week (9-13 September 2019) and the Awards will be presented by Vice-Admiral Sir Tim Laurence KCVO CB ADC.
*Image courtesy of IMRF showing Michael Vlasto, lead judge IMRF Awards.