Become a search and rescue volunteer

Coastguard search and rescue volunteers crew our rescue vessels and air patrols, training as mariners, observers, medics and lifesavers. 

Our volunteers jump at the chance to help save a life. Being part of the Coastguard team will give you lifelong skills, friendships and experiences.


Coastguard rescue vessel crew

This role is life changing as well as lifesaving.  You will receive training to learn the skills needed to crew on a rescue vessel.

Air Patrol crew

Volunteer to be part of the air search team and learn the skills to be an air observer or tactical officer.  Experience in the small plane environment is an advantage as fair weather flying is not always on the agenda.


What is involved?


Out on the water anything can go wrong. It may be mechanical (broken hose fittings, fuel pump, injectors); medical (heart attack, concussion, knife gash); it may be a rock fisherman swept away, a kayaker caught out in bad weather conditions or a surfer caught in a rip…

As you can imagine, being involved in the life-saving work of search and rescue requires our volunteers to be well trained. As a search and rescue volunteer, a serious commitment to undergo ongoing training is expected.

Whatever role you choose as a volunteer, you will participate in rigorous and regular training schedules to ensure you have the skills and expertise to handle the wide variety of incidents that can occur as part of your role.

You will also learn invaluable life skills that help you remain calm and analytical in stressful situations wherever they may arise.


Coastguard is organised into 70 units around our coast, lakes and rivers. When you volunteer, you volunteer for a particular unit, normally one local to you.

Each unit will conduct a familiarisation programme to allow you to fully understand the commitment to the regular ongoing training that is required.

As a new volunteer you will participate in an induction training phase before you become a trainee.


How do I become a search and rescue volunteer?

Choosing to be a Coastguard volunteer is an exciting step to take, but before you jump in please do consider how it fits in with your life. Coastguard is a 24/7 search and rescue services and a commitment to ongoing training and a willingness to drop everything at a moment’s notice is a must.

If you feel that search and rescue volunteering for Coastguard is right for you please visit our How to Apply page.

If you would like to find out more about volunteering with Coastguard, please take the time to read the real life experiences of our volunteers.

If you have any further questions, please contact us.

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