The Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) Program, offered by the Canadian Coast Guard, hires students to fill summer search and rescue (SAR) positions around the coasts of Newfoundland.
"It's a very serious job, but one that comes with a lot of rewards," explained Owen Evans, an engineering student from McMaster University in Ontario. This is his fourth summer working for the IRB program.
"It's an amazing opportunity… this is one of the best things you can do in the summer as a student."
Anthony Condotta, who is a speech communications and business student at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, is participating in the IRB for the very first time this summer. His love of first aid and SAR work lead him to the program.
"I find all first-aid work really rewarding. You're looking after people, making sure they're okay, and that's something you never really question at the end of the day. You always go home knowing that you’ve done something good," he explained.
"I would recommend you jump on board for the experience. It's been amazing."
But, before deciding to jump onboard, you might want to have a look at the criteria.
Any student wishing to apply must hold a valid VHF Digital Selective Call Restricted Maritime Radio Operators Certificate, a Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) LEVEL C, a standard First-Aid Certificate, a Pleasure Craft Operator Card, and, last but not least, a Canadian driver's licence.
"It takes a bit of work to meet the criteria," summarized Stephen Sheppard, SAR preparedness officer and IRB program co-ordinator.
Students who do meet the criteria and are hired by the Canadian Coast Guard help augment SAR operations during peak traffic summer months, responding mostly to inshore pleasure craft incidents. They are, however, equipped to respond to calls including vessels up to 65 feet.
Shepherd explained to The Packet that the students’ training ends May 17 and that the IRB will go fully operational on Saturday, operating out of Conception Bay, Bonavista Bay and Notre Dame Bay. The student's extensive training covered how to handle boats at high speeds, how to execute onshore landings, how to help those on a disabled vessel and how to work in adverse weather conditions.
The Packet was invited for a ride along for yesterday's day of training in Bonavista Bay, where students performed mock onshore rescues.
Students operated Zodiac Hurricane 753 OBs, which cost around $300,000, according to Neil Peet, SAR preparedness officer.
Each boat, which is required to meet Safety of Life At Sea's rescue boat standards, is standardized and carries trauma kits, stretchers, medical oxygen, military grade night-vision goggles.
"Any tool you would find in the arsenal of a big coast guard ship is available to these people here," explained Peet.
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