IT'S OUR PEOPLE WHO MAKE IT HAPPEN
"Physical uniformity is not a prerequisite. Big, small, whiskery, bald, single, married, other, builders, doctors, labourers, pen pushers, unemployed, mechanics, introverts, extroverts, the timid, the boisterous, the communicator, the hermit – we've had and have the lot. I always say the beauty of Coastguard is that being a volunteer organisation, when it comes to our people we have to play the hand we are dealt – and boy is that a strength. But to do justice to the numerous characters that have graced our presence over the years is just not feasible in the space available." - Brooke Archbold MNZM, Senior Master
At the leading edge of our operations are our Search & Rescue (SAR) Crew. That is the term that means active search and rescue volunteers who are qualified to crew and work on dedicated Rescue Vessels in accordance with Royal New Zealand Coastguard Regulations. SAR Crews are very dedicated people they might just be back from ten hours on the water. Tired and wet they might be, ready for a hot shower and a meal they most certainly are. But there is no night at the Pub for them. They are duty crew and if the pager goes off they will head out again for as long as it takes.
When you are standing on a heaving deck in the middle of the night in the pouring rain it is important to know that the person alongside you is trained to be here and cares as much about your life and safety as you do your own.
Our amazing volunteer crew members operate in close-knit crews of 4 to 6 people, allocated to a specific rescue vessel. Aside from regular training and extra support activities, they each serve on a rostered duty about once a month. For our larger vessels, Lion Foundation Rescue and ASB Rescue, each duty is a 24 hours period over a weekend or public holiday. Outside of rosetered duties, they are always able to be contacted by pager or mobile app.
Qualifications and Training
Standards established by Maritime New Zealand and Coastguard New Zealand require a high level of competency to be met and maintained. Training never stops from the day you join. Its part of the ethic of being a Coastguard. Being part of a Search and Rescue crew is a major commitment. Your commitment will be measured in the time spent involved in rescues and also in learning how to use increasingly, new equipment, faster boats and improving your skills.
It normally take between one and two years to take a new volunteer and train them to become fully operational crew. Many chose to progress beyond that to become Senior SAR Crew and and some excel even further to become a Master (Skipper) of a Rescue Vessel. Masters have had to pass more than 75 examinations and evaluations to reach this level. As well the were subject to extensive testing and evaluation by the Unit Examiners and Examiners from outside agencies. Our Masters have both Maritime New Zealand and NZ Coastguard Qualifications. You'll also find that many of our Senior Crew and Masters are instructors and examiners themselves, always looking to improve the skills of new and existing crew.