• Andrew Sweatman

Managing Risk in Volunteer Organisations: A Case Study

Two of our Lucidity team members (Rob & Wayn) are patrolling members of one of our local surf clubs - Sandridge Life Saving Club. They are both qualified Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) drivers, and in the case of Wayn an assessor / instructor.

In the course of running training, they encountered "Ruth".

Ruth is a 'rescue manikin' and is made by the Ruth Lee company. So why do we need a rescue manikin, and why is Ruth sitting in reception at Lucidity?

A typical training scenario that is practiced very regularly is for the IRB driver and crew to approach, and then retrieve a patient that is in the water. The driver drives the boat (!) and the crew is responsible for reaching over the side of the IRB, and lifting the patient from the water into the boat (with a limited amount of assistance from the driver). A quick risk assessment combined with some recent experience reveals a few hazards associated with this training activity:

  • Patient (in the water) - run over by the boat

  • Patient - hypothermia

  • Patient - injuries being dragged into the boat

  • Crew - back strains lifting patient into the boat

Needless to say there are hazards associated with drowning, sunburn and all manner of things generally associated with water based activities.

Its not hard to see from the dot points above, that the use of a rescue manikin can help make this training exercise a lot safer. Ruth doesn't mind being run over, doesn't suffer from hypothermia and is resistant to cuts and bruises. She is also a sprightly 20kg, which is heavy enough to be realistic but light enough to reduce the likelihood of strains associated with lifting her out of the water.

Importantly, by using Ruth it is possible to do a lot more training.

If you are dropping by the office and happen to see Ruth (she will be with us for another week before being delivered to the club), be sure to shake her hand. She really is a life saver.

Learn more about IRBs here.


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Lucidity acknowledges the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung people of the Kulin nation and the Ngunnawal people as the Traditional Owners of the lands on which our offices are located. We also acknowledge the Traditional Owners of Country on which we meet and work throughout Australia. We recognise that sovereignty over the land has never been ceded, and pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.