My Coast Guard

SAR training options expanded for BM and OS ratings 

By Janki Patel, MyCG Writer

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Operational specialists and boatswains mates won’t have to wait for travel orders to complete search and rescue credentials. 

Available on the Coast Guard’s learning management system (LMS), these new online search and rescue (SAR) self-paced e-Learning (SPeL) courses are accessible at any time, allowing members to gain additional knowledge when it's convenient for them. Historically, the SAR courses were in-person with self-paced content accessible only at nation-wide training centers used exclusively by “A” schools for Operations Specialists (OSs) and boatswain's mates (BMs) as part of their required training. 

All Coast Guard members now have the opportunity to take four SAR SPel courses as part of Force Readiness Command’s (FORCECOM) Modernized Ready Learning Initiative, supporting members advancing in their careers through continued learning opportunities. 

“The SAR fundamentals course was outdated in content and lacked the ‘full picture’ of the SAR system with different levels and responsibilities associated with each,” said James Knapp, project manager and the contracting officer representative for FORCECOM Training Division Virtual Readiness Center Future Capabilities Section Facilitated Online Training. 

The new curriculum’s courses are organized into four tiers that are to be taken in progressive order because each level of new content builds upon the last. The courses are:   

Tier 1: Search and Rescue Fundamentals – This course provides personnel engaged in SAR instructions for determining the basic responsibilities of SAR Coordinator (SC), on scene coordinator (OSC) and search and rescue Unit (SRU). It also addresses how to apply SAR policies, resources, and communication methods to responses.  

Tier 2: Search Coordination and Rescue – This course provides instructions for search coordination personnel on employing the elements of the SAR system and organization. It also addresses how to apply SAR policies, resources, and communication methods to responses.  

Tier 3: Maritime Search Planning – This course provides instructions to personnel engaged in maritime search planning and determining steps such as engaging appropriate elements of the SAR organization and recommending the SAR mission coordinator (SMC) level appropriate for the case. It also addresses how to apply SAR policies, resources, and communication methods to responses.  

Tier 4: Search and Rescue Mission Coordinator – This course provides instruction for personnel engaged in SMC and active suspension (ACTSUS) responsibilities. It also addresses how to apply SAR policies, resources, and communication methods to responses.  

In all four tiers, the attendees get to participate in SAR response operations and apply SAR search planning methodology. 

COVID operations may have accelerated the use of web-based training, but the transition to  self-paced training was already well underway for FORCECOM. Mission critical and time sensitive training to continue for the Service’s highest profile mission.