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Rescue specialist

Rescue specialists are highly skilled professionals capable of administering emergency pre-hospital care in the most difficult maritime conditions. Rescue specialists work in a dynamic, challenging and remote marine environments on board ships and coastal search and rescue stations.


Rescue specialists are responsible for:

  • rescuing and extracting casualties
  • providing pre-hospital emergency care for patients and casualties resulting from:
    • medical evacuations
    • shipboard medical emergencies
    • maritime search and rescue incidents
  • maintaining, purchasing, replacing or advising of any needed supplies or equipment
  • providing medical care or advanced interventions, directed by medical authorities on shore
  • advising on matters concerning the application of rescue specialist duties as required by their commanding officer
  • maintaining their skills, knowledge and certifications as needed


To become a rescue specialist, Coast Guard members must meet specific training requirements, including annual CPR and automatic external defibrillator (AED) recertification.

Initial training takes place over 15 training days, or 120 hours. It includes:

  • Emergency Medical Responder (EMR) or Advanced Medical First Responder Level 2
  • competencies specific to the Coast Guard Rescue Specialist working environment

Members in training will be evaluated in simulations, practical skill tests and with a written exam.

Subjects include:

  • patient assessment
  • spinal immobilization
  • communications with medical personnel
  • hypothermia and cold water near-drowning
  • diving injury recognition and field treatment
  • marine disaster scene management and triage
  • rescue, extraction and transfer in a marine environment

Rescue specialists are trained to use equipment including:

  • stretchers
  • traction splints
  • first aid jump-kits
  • automatic external defibrillators
  • extrication and spinal immobilization tools

Rescue specialist are also trained use specialized equipment to administer the following:

  • entonox
  • pharmaceuticals
  • oxygen and airways

Re-certification requires 10 days of training (80 hours of training and 18 hours of course study and homework) every 3 years.

Income and benefits

Rescue specialists receive a monthly allowance on top of their regular salary. This allowance is specified in the appropriate collective agreement of the employee’s regular position.

Hours of work

Rescue specialists’ hours of work vary depending on their location and position. They usually work different shift work patterns based on their position on board ships or at stations.

Ideal candidates

The Coast Guard is looking for candidates who:

  • are proficient in:
    • communication
    • basic seamanship skills
    • effective problem solving
  • are from the deck department of the ship’s crew
    • Coast Guard may accept employees from other groups upon recommendation from both the commanding officer and regional authority
  • are continuous or seasonal full-time or term-over employees
    • Coast Guard may accept other categories of employee upon recommendation from both the commanding officer and regional authority
  • have passed a current seafarer’s medical assessment as ‘fit with no limitations’
  • hold a certificate in Marine Basic First Aid (within 3 years) and Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) (within 1 year)
    • an advanced or higher level of first aid background is preferred

We recommend that candidates also have Small Vessel Operator Proficiency (SVOP) and Rigid Hull Inflatable Operator Training (RHIOT).

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