Volunteering for an international search and rescue service has enabled Salisbury students to learn life-saving skills at the same time as having fun.
The Foundation Studies department collaborated with Serve On to offer students the chance to develop both their personal and professional skills through a seven-month training programme.
Training took place every Thursday since November and finished with nine students dressed head to toe in safety gear, taking to the water at New Forest Water Park in Fordingbridge, to demonstrate the water based search and rescue skills they learned to friends and family.
The hour performance showcased a number of scenarios including single and double causalities where the students demonstrated the procedure Serve On would take in a real-life situation to deliver immediate response by using professional equipment such as throw-bags and rescue boats.
Foundation Studies lecturer Michael Carter said: “The collaboration has given our students a purpose and helps them see that they can be successful, useful and needed within a community, which in turn helps to further build their own confidence both in their skills learnt at Serve On and in themselves in general.
“On the final day I was very impressed that the students worked hard to look professional and work together.
“They have made huge progress being able to work together, trust each other, listen to instructions and adapt to circumstances.
“I would like to say a big thank you to the army of Serve On volunteers who gave up a huge amount of their personal time to ensure these opportunities happened.”
Some of the students who took part will continue to volunteer with Serve On in their own time now the college collaboration has finished.
One student enjoyed the experience so much that he can’t wait to get back in the water.
Craig Nisbett, or CJ as he is better known, from Tidworth, said: “There is nothing I didn’t enjoy about volunteering and being a part of the project.
“I learned everything we do now from scratch and had never done anything like it before.
“It was really interesting and just good fun!”
For some of the students basic communication and teamwork does not come naturally, so they have had to overcome challenges to succeed in training activities where teamwork, communication and trust is essential.
Steve Pickering from Serve On, who was helping manage the exercise on the day, said: “These students aren’t necessarily team players, yet Serve On is all about team work and trust as so much goes into ensuring the people being rescued and the rescuers remain safe.
“Working with the college has given the students a much better understanding of team work whilst building their own confidence, and since the beginning, the change is quite considerable.”
For the student’s families and friends, it was fantastic for them to see what they have been learning in full action.
CJ’s father Craig Herbert, said: “This has been a great educational, career-focussed opportunity – my boy loves it!
“It is great for the students and was really good to see them taking part in activities like this.”
The Foundation Studies department would also like to thank Craig Elson who ran the weekly training sessions and its own Deputy Head of Department James Lewis for establishing the link between the two organisations, training with the students each week and joining Serve On himself with Molly the dog, who will soon be a qualified search dog.