Jason is a Station Officer with the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre, which provides national marine assistance and responds to ship casualties and maritime emergencies. He gives us an insight into the role of a Watch Officer when an emergency arises at sea.
What was your career path to becoming a Watch Officer?
Before joining the Irish Coast Guard, I gained valuable experience in the Irish Naval Service working at sea onboard several Naval Vessels. My role in the Communications Branch was as a Radio Radar Technician which involved being responsible for all communication and maritime electronic equipment onboard the vessel. I have a Degree in Electronic Engineering from (Kevin St) DIT and a Marine Electronics Degree from Limerick Institute of Technology.
What does your role entail as a Watch Officer?
I am a Station Officer within the Marine Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC) in Dublin, which is a watch supervisory role. I have responsibility for the coordination of Search and Rescue incidents within the Irish Search and Rescue region. My role is to maintain a continuous state of readiness within the Rescue Coordination Centre while supervising and training staff as necessary. The MRCC provides a marine radio distress listening watch, broadcasts safety information and also provides national marine assistance and responds to ship casualties and maritime emergencies. The Centre monitors the EEZ and intervenes for marine casualties to prevent/ minimize damage to the marine environment. It also provides support as appropriate to statutory bodies or agencies in an emergency response.
What opportunities has the role provided you with?
Since starting the role, I have had the opportunity for professional development. I have availed of courses and training at home and abroad covering a wide range of topics in search and rescue and administration. The role has also allowed for interaction with other emergency agencies locally and internationally.
What were your reasons for applying for a Watch Officer role?
The role allowed me to take my seagoing experience ashore and this has led to a better work/life balance. As an emergency service we operate on a 24/7 basis 365 days of the year, working a shift pattern that provides good time off throughout the year.
As a Watch Officer, you may be the first point of contact in an emergency at sea. Can you tell us how your role plays a part in a rescue mission and what impact it can have on Irish society?
On receiving a distress call by VHF or 999 /112 call, as a Watch Officer, it is important to get as much information as possible from the caller. This information can help us prepare and task the most appropriate search and rescue (SAR) asset or assets for the incident. This involves the gathering of background work including obtaining: local weather forecasts, preparing landing sites, tasking SAR assets and briefing these assets. This coordination role involves a lot of work unseen to the public but ensures a smooth and prompt response to an incident. Further monitoring and preparedness are carried out as the incident progresses. The role requires good teamwork and communication skills. Assisting people in danger and saving lives is the most important part of the role, which is always a source of great satisfaction. There is, of course, great job satisfaction on a good outcome.
Would you recommend a career in the Public Sector?
In my opinion, the public sector provides a great opportunity to those who value a balanced work and personal life combination. The Irish Coast Guard offers secure employment and opportunities to progress your career.