By Suzanne Hansen (Reproduced with permission from The Informer)
The Whitianga Coastguard Unit is at the moment looking for volunteer radio operators.
If any new volunteers can get their training underway during the quiet of winter, they will be ready for the busy summer season.
A Coastguard radio operator is a “professional” volunteer job with a difference.
The Whitianga Coastguard radio operators go through comprehensive training, enabling them to work with some of the most advanced voiceover IP communications and incident reporting technology in New Zealand.
The role of the radio operator is an integral part of the Coastguard’s marine incident response to incidents at sea. It is a volunteer
role which provides not just training, but also growth paths to other roles in the organisation with greater leadership opportunities and the opportunity to work within an organisation known for great culture and camaraderie.
Graham Caddy, the Whitianga Coastguard’s vice president of operations, says that as in any volunteer organisation, key volunteers
make changes in their life plans and, as a result of some of their volunteers stepping down, they need to find up to six new recruits to train up as radio operators.
There is a solid investment in anyone the Whitianga Coastguard Unit is recruiting as a radio operator, so they are looking for recruits who can commit to the role in the medium to long term. Saying this, the roster for operators work around suitable hours and the availability and lifestyles of the volunteers. The hours Senior radio operator, Ann Riley in the Whitianga Coastguard Unit’s incident control room are not onerous, but the investment in skills is tangible.
“We are looking for volunteers who preferably have some marine background, they will need a police clearance and some keyboard skills are beneficial,” says Graham. “Our new recruits will be funded to complete the courses they will need to do their job, such as their VHS Operator License, incident management and more.
Our incident control room here in Whitianga is unique in that it’s a state-of-the-art facility and proper training is critical to the radio operator function.
“Our whole search and rescue process begins with a boat skipper’s initial trip report to the radio operator, which gives us critical intelligence should an incident occur. That incident may be anything from a tow needed to a complete mayday situation, but that initial trip report will get us looking in the right place, for the right people, saving precious time. Being in the centre of all of this as a radio operator can be quite a buzz.”
Volunteering as a radio operator for the Coastguard is a great way to meet new friends who share a passion for the sea, as well as to
bond with a team of professional volunteers with a great culture. The Whitianga Coastguard is all about saving lives at sea.
If you would like more information or would like to get involved in the Whitianga Coastguard Unit as a radio operator, you can
phone Graham directly on (027) 295 4861 or phone the Whitianga Coastguard duty officer on (07) 866 2883.