Volunteers

Would you like to serve as a volunteer with the Canadian Coast Guard?

Then consider joining the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue as a rescue volunteer! Rescue volunteers are experienced navigators who combine their passion for boating with their desire to help others.

What is the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue?

The Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue (RMCSAR) is a non-profit organization and a registered charity made up of close to 4,000 volunteer resources throughout Canada. The RMCSAR organizes volunteer efforts to help the Coast Guard and National Defense with search and rescue and safe boating programs.

When it comes to search and rescue (SAR), it is essential that enough rescue boats are available to provide the best coverage, so that they may go immediately to the scene of an accident. Reaction has to be fast – lives depend on it.

Most of the calls come from one of three Joint Canadian Rescue Coordination Centers known as JRCCs. These centers, staffed by SAR coordinators from the Canadian Military and the Canadian Coast Guard, are on full alert 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round.

They direct the closest and most appropriate resources to a distress call.

Did you know?

The Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue is a major player in Canada´s national search and rescue (SAR) response network. Each year, the Auxiliary responds to about 25 % of nearly 8,000 marine SAR incidents. This translates into more than 200 lives saved each year.

Volunteer network and fleet

The Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue is made up of close to 4,000 dedicated volunteers. Members are mainly pleasure craft operators and commercial fishermen who use their own vessels or community owned vessels for safe boating education and SAR-related activities.

Currently, the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue fleet includes over 1,130 vessels. Vessels are either privately owned, community owned, or loaned by the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue.

All vessels must meet strict standards in order to become part of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue fleet. Members are responsible for keeping their boats maintained. They are also required to equip them with specialized search and rescue gear, which can run into the thousands of dollars.

What do volunteers do?

Volunteers work in support of the Canadian Coast Guard, under a contribution and partnership agreement. Their mission is to avoid accidents or reduce their severity, and to save 100 % of lives at risk.

A volunteer’s first role is to rescue people in difficulty or distress. Volunteers must be available mainly during the navigation season in order to respond to calls. They must also undergo training and participate in practical exercises to keep skills up-to-date and be ready when it really matters.

To prevent accidents and loss of life, volunteers also:

  • conduct courtesy exams of pleasure craft and small fishing vessels
  • give marine safety equipment demonstrations
  • participate in safe boating courses, displays, and boat shows

Did you know?

In 2010, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue units responded to 1,700 SAR calls and participated in 2,500 training exercises.

Where can I volunteer?

The territory covered by the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue is vast. Canada's area of responsibility stretches over 5.3 million square kilometers, bordering some of the most rugged coastline in the world. The Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue is also present on many of Canada's major inland waterways.

There are Canadian Coast Guard auxiliaries across the country:

In seaside villages, marinas, and ports across Canada, volunteers are organized into units that handle missions in their area. Each unit is led by an elected unit leader. A group of units combines to make up a zone led by a Director.

Did you know?

The Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue has been recognized as one of the best, safest and most cost-effective volunteer marine rescue organizations in the world, with many national and international awards.

Pay and benefits

Volunteers are not paid for the work they do. When taking part in authorized SAR activities, they are compensated only for the cost of their fuel.

On the other hand, a person who becomes a member of the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescuewill be part of a great team, whose history is filled with many feats of successful missions, and lives saved. Our members are motivated by pride and the thanks received from the victims and their families.

How do I become a volunteer?

Are you a skilled navigator with a Pleasure Craft Operator Certificate? Then contact the CGA regional office nearest you to find out how you can help.

Learn more

Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue

Did you know?

Because volunteers are only reimbursed for out-of-pocket expenses when tasked to a SAR mission, the Government of Canada receives around $37 in services from the Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue for every dollar actually spent. In other words, Royal Canadian Marine Search and Rescue members save Canadian taxpayers millions by providing services at a fraction of the cost of maintaining the same number of Coast Guard units.

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