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Whitstable Lifeboat Station held its annual ‘Dan Davies’ Trophy competition on Saturday 21st May when two teams drawn from the stations volunteer lifeboat crew competed in a realistic exercise testing their seamanship and first aid and skills for a trophy awarded in memory of the stations first Honorary Medical Advisor, local GP Dr Dan Davies who died in 1977.

The exercise was staged onboard the Thames sailing barge Greta moored off the Long beach. The casualties were played by Scott Gaudie, Lindsay Hart and Lee Page, members of the South East Coast Ambulance Trust taking part on their days off and all the simulated injuries had been most realistically applied by Whitstable lifeboat station’s Management Committee Chairman Mark Laming.

Over the years, the scenario’s facing the lifeboat crews have varied but all have involved severe injuries and have all been devised by the Whitstable Lifeboat Casualty Care Advisor Dr Terry Stefani who described this year’s scenario.

“The skipper of the sailing barge Greta played by Lee Page has a long history of back problems and his back has completely seized up whilst getting off the toilet in the head. His inexperienced crew have panicked and one Lindsay Hart, has tripped on the foredeck getting her ankle caught under the anchor chain and sustained an open fractured lower leg, with acute pain in the hip and a mild head injury. The other casualty Scott Gaudie is experiencing severe chest pain and has had a past history of heart disease”.

The two lifeboat crews taking part crews comprised of Trainee Helmsman Rob Judge, with crew members Rob Nicholls, Oz Warren and Tim Smith and team two of Helmsman Mike Keam, Liam Sidders, Dan Monk and Andy Williams. Both teams faced a daunting task.

Once alongside the Greta the task facing each team was to assess and prioritise the casualties and to do this safely, so that the most serious casualty or casualties received the most attention.

The two teams were observed by Dr’s Terry Stefani, Dr Alistair Gould and Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Judge to see how they applied the first aid and how effective it would be and then their general handling of each casualty in preparation for placement, if necessary, in stretchers and the subsequent transfer to the lifeboat.

The scenario also simulated that lifeboats from other stations and the Coastguard Helicopter were tasked with another incident and that help was not available to the Whitstable lifeboat crew for some time.

Whilst this is only an exercise the pressure on all involved is very real. Every move, every application of first aid and use of equipment and medical supplies was closely watched, each decision made by the individual and the team would be noted down and analysed in great detail by the assessors. Lifeboat Operations Manager Mike Judge said “It is as much a test of strategy to get the casualty from their predicament to a place of safety on the lifeboat and eventually ashore”.

At presentation ceremony held later in the evening Dr Stefani announced that the winners were team one of Trainee Helmsman Rob Judge with crew Rob Nicholls, Oz Warren and Tim Smith and they where presented with the Dan Davies Trophy by Charlie Davies youngest son of Dan Davies.

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Fiona Davies presented the ‘Kit Davies’ award for the best individual performance and presented in memory of Kit Davies, her late husband and Dr Davies son who passed away in 2007 to Rob Judge.

After the event Dr Stefani said “This was the 36th Dan Davies exercise. The scenario contained some very challenging situations for the crew’s particularly the casualty with the slipped disc who proved very difficult to deal with due to the cramped below deck location. Both crews tackled the situation extremely well and have shown that the casualty care training at the station and that given by the RNLI has prepared them to face any situation with confidence and competence”.

“Yet again we are extremely grateful for the generous support offered by Steve Norris, skipper of the Greta and that given by the paramedics from SECAMB who praised the competence of the lifeboat crews”.

Rob Judge summed the day up “It was a great day for both teams and everyone else involved. Considering that we were being watched there was always a sense of pressure especially for me as this was my first time as helmsman and I had two trainee crew who had not taken part before, and did very well, in a challenging situation”.