Logbook #69: “We are not necessarily giving them a better life, but they get a chance of having one. A chance of living”

Logbook #69: “We are not necessarily giving them a better life, but they get a chance of having one. A chance of living”

Nicholas has been at sea for 17 years now. He started sailing on dinghies, yachts and commercial vessels and worked as a search and rescue swimmer before joining the SOS Méditerranée SAR team.

Working as a skipper for 10 years Nicholas travelled the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean before becoming a commercial diver (salvage and oil and gas). Last year he was working with MOAS as a search and rescue swimmer before he applied for SOS Méditerranée and was accepted. “I think SOS Med is one of there best there is. Especially the current search and rescue team is a group of professionals that bring a lot of experience with them. And I wanted to be part of it” he says, explaining his motivation for joining SOS Med.

When I asked him what he likes best about his job his answer is simple, “Giving people a chance. If we were not out here I think most people would die. We are not necessarily giving them a better life, but they get a chance of having one. A chance of living.”

But being in that position comes at a price, “The hardest part of the job is the stress. Dealing with the constant stress, nothing is planned as such. I mean, you can train as much as you want with the team, but it is up to human nature how people react when you start to rescue. If it goes wrong, you have people dying. That is pretty much a given and to a certain degree, one must be aware of that. You try everything you can possibly do to avoid it, but the likelihood of it happening is still very high.”

Even though Nicholas’ main job is on the RHIB during the rescues he – like all members of the team – is involved in all activities once people have been safely brought aboard the Aquarius, “The care that is given to people impressed me the most. For many of these people it is probably the first after a long time that they receive this kind of attention and care we give them. You see them relax a little bit, and that feels good.”

Nicholas wants to keep on working in search and rescue as long as he is able to cope with the level of stress and frustration that is part of the job, “Of course, it would be great if there will be a solution for ending the deaths in the Mediterranean. If not, I will continue.”