These Coast Guard recruits are helping keep Newfoundland boaters safe this summer
After weeks spent in an intensive training camp, the newest crew for the Inshore Rescue Boat service are ready to patrol the waters around Newfoundland.
The program, run by the Canadian Coast Guard, hires post-secondary students to work in search and rescue and boat safety across the country, with three locations in this province: Notre Dame Bay, Conception Bay and Bonavista Bay.
"It's addictive. The boats are addictive. It's a great group of people," said Evan Wall, a student from Vancouver now in his second summer with the IRB program.
"Everybody here is very talented and very driven. We get a ton of information thrown at us in this training camp and everybody brings their best foot forward. It's a privilege to be with this crew and doing this work. It's like nothing else."
As the program's Newfoundland and Labrador coordinator, it's Marina Carbonell's job to make sure the 19 recruits are ready for the job.
"They're doing their training, learning some more evolutions. Different exercises, different skills," she said, adding help is never far away.
"We are in the safety boat just making sure that everybody is making safe choices."
Since the beginning of May, the crew have been practicing their boating skills and techniques on how to save lives.
"We take our training very seriously, whether that is practicing drills where we are recovering a person from the water or first aid, we're always always very focused," said Wall.
"We try and keep it realistic. We're always staying cognisant that this could happen for real. "
Marine biology student Erin Woodley of Chelsea, Quebec has experience rafting and driving a pontoon boat, but admitted this program is a whole new level of expertise.
In her first year with the program, Woodley can't think of a better way to spend her weeks out of university.
"What a cool way to spend the summer exploring the ocean and helping people out," she said.
One of the highlights of the last week of training was a visit from the Cormorant helicopter from 103 Search and Rescue Squadron in Gander.
The students got a tour of the aircraft and some basic safety protocols in the event of an emergency.
Neil Peet, deputy superintendent for Maritime Search and Rescue for Canadian Coast Guard Atlantic region, says it's an important educational tool.
"Now that our summer employees with the inshore rescue boat program will be going operation as of Saturday, that big mission could happen Saturday morning," he said.
"We want to ensure that employees with the Canadian Coast Guard are well-versed in how the Royal Canadian Air Force do business."
The new crews will be on the water just in time for the Victoria Day long weekend.