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Inshore Rescue Boat student program

The Canadian Coast Guard hires and trains candidates each summer to become members of an Inshore Rescue Boat crew.

Selected candidates are trained in search and rescue operations whereby they will gain: rewarding real-world experience in delivering on-water search and rescue while working with multiple local agencies, proficiency in operating a Fast Rescue Craft (FRC), and opportunities for professional growth and leadership roles. When they successfully complete their training they will be assigned as crew to an Inshore Rescue Boat station.

The Inshore Rescue Boat service was started in the 1970’s as part of Canada’s Career Oriented Summer Employment Program, which became the Federal Student Work Experience Program. In 2013, the Canadian Coast Guard partnered with the Royal Canadian Navy to allow reserve-force Naval personnel to be assigned to the Inshore Rescue Boat, as part of their training and development.

Responsibilities and duties

As part of a crew, participants will respond and provide assistance to mariners in distress or need of assistance, including:

  • vessels that are:
    • on fire
    • disabled
    • aground
    • capsized
    • broken down
    • lost in the fog
    • taking on water
  • person overboard
  • medical emergencies

In addition to regular response duties, Inshore Rescue Boat crews provide public education on boating safety topics such as:

  • hypothermia
  • rules of navigation
  • personal watercraft use
  • personal floatation devices
  • pleasure craft courtesy checks
  • boating restrictions and regulations
  • required safety equipment aboard a vessel
  • proposed changes to the required equipment

At minimum, each IRB crew consists of 1 Coxwain and 2 crew members. Crews operate on a rotating schedule of 14 consecutive days of work followed by 14 days of rest.

Training, pay and hours of work

Inshore Rescue Boat training lasts at minimum 16 days and begins shortly after the end of the school year. Topics include:

  • seamanship
  • boat handling
  • local coastal navigation
  • search and rescue operations, such as:
    • communications
    • search techniques

Pay during training

Students are paid during training. Information about accommodations during training will be provided by regional coast guard staff during the interview process.

Hours of work

Search and rescue operations can occur at any time of the day or night, during all types of weather and sea conditions.

Inshore Rescue Boat coordinators schedule crew members using a 46.6-hour averaging work system. Participants will work a 14-day cycle, consisting of 2 weeks of work followed by 2 weeks off.

Subject to the successful completion of mandatory training before the beginning of the operational season, crews are assigned to an IRB station for a fulltime student contract (typically from May to early September).

Naval Reserve candidates

There are 20 Naval Reserve positions available with the program each summer. Participants are usually drawn from hard sea trades, but other trades may apply.

The Naval Reserve Division still exercises command over personnel during the program. The Canadian Coast Guard provides operational direction, some personal protective equipment and a post-employment performance report.

The Inshore Rescue Boat coordinator decides station assignments in each region. Members from these divisions must apply to serve at their closest Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship station (HMCS):

  • Atlantic region:
    • HMCS Cabot
    • HMCS Queen Charlotte
    • HMCS Scotian
  • Central and Arctic region:
    • HMCS Carleton
    • HMCS Cataraqui
    • HMCS Donnaconna
    • HMCS Hunter
    • HMCS Radisson
  • Western region:
    • HMCS Discovery
    • HMCS Tecumseh

Members from other divisions may apply and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Members return to their home division when off-duty and are responsible for their own transportation between shifts. Transportation is provided to members in British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador when travelling to and from their regional coast guard base.

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