Volunteering with His Majesty's Coastguard: A journey of service and resilience

Embarking on a journey with His Majesty's Coastguard is more than a commitment; it's a testament to service and resilience. We delve into the profound experiences and invaluable lessons learned through Mr Tayler’s dedication to volunteering with the Aberdeen Coastguard Rescue Team. They are at the forefront of safeguarding our maritime community, braving unpredictable elements and navigating challenges with unwavering resilience.

For the past year, I have had the privilege of volunteering with His Majesty's Aberdeen Coastguard Rescue Team. I am grateful for the College’s recognition of the importance of giving back to the community, the positive impact on our maritime city, and the benefits that being part of the rescue team can bring to the organisation. My role at Robert Gordon’s College is flexible (and needs to be), allowing me to leave often at short notice and catch up later. Similarly, the rescue team operates with flexibility, enabling all members to prioritise family or work commitments when necessary.

I have been fortunate (so far) that I have never had to call on any of the rescue services throughout 35 years of personal and professional adventures. Several of my friends have, and I am sure some of the people I have worked with will have at some point. Being a Coastguard Rescue Officer is my way of giving back to the broader community. 

It is not the most glamorous role, often called out in the middle of the night to walk around in the rain or be on hand to lift and carry the equipment. It is the job that needs doing. Whether that's the person to catch a rope from a fishing boat rescued by the lifeboat, help with a patient transfer from a helicopter to the ambulance or search an area for someone, we all go without complaint. The wide range of situations that the team can be faced with means you have to come up with innovative solutions quickly and, more importantly, safely. In the Outdoor industry, it’s common for people to say how good they are at managing risk, but in reality, it boils down to a willingness to embrace risk. His Majesty's Coastguard trains extensively so that we can carry out rescues with minimal risk, whether on the beach, cliffs, mud or around water.   

One of the RGC core values is resilience, which encompasses enduring the challenges of the cold, damp, and sleep deprivation. However, the essence of resilience lies in the capacity to adapt to new situations. With training and a supportive team, you’re empowered to navigate and adapt to various scenarios, a key attribute to benefit the College (or any employer). A mindset of readiness and thorough preparation fosters resilience. 

Training took 3 months, including a 3 day casualty care course, 2 day water rescue and countless hours of local knowledge, navigation, radio and driver training. Despite being new to the team, team leaders in Aberdeen and surrounding teams, as well as Officers in Charge of each rescue, all treat you with respect and value your prior knowledge. Even as a new start, your opinion and ideas are respected as seasoned hands, and this leadership style of calm confidence and listening to everyone is something that I aspire to. 

The Coastguard Rescue Officers come from diverse backgrounds and are dedicated to assisting anyone in need without judgement or questioning the circumstances. Yes, sometimes my pager (actually, it's my mobile) disrupts Sunday dinner, long meetings or sleep, but at the end of the day, if it were my family, I would want someone to help them. To paraphrase Terry Pratchett and Lily Tomlin, “Someone should do something about that… and that someone is me.” 

Becoming part of the team is a great opportunity that I encourage people to consider. Area 3 (North East of Scotland) regularly recruit, discover more and apply online. If anyone is thinking of joining or would like to ask a question, please give me a call. It’s not just big, burly men with beards! Sure, looking like a Jack Reacher stunt double is great for water rescue (they can wade deeper without floating off) but equally important is the light person for cliff rescue or the organised person to plan a search pattern. If you're keen and committed, then His Majesty's Coastguard can find a role for you, and often that can involve achieving something you never knew you were capable of which brings a lot of satisfaction and pride.