The first class of aviation survival technicians, an occupation in the Coast Guard responsible for jumping from rescue helicopters and hoisting survivors from vessels in distress, graduated from Coast Guard Training Center Petaluma, Friday, August 12, 2022.
This graduating class of 12 students started training in January 2022 after a critical facilities issue closed the training pool at the Coast Guard’s Aviation Technician Training Center in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. Training Center Petaluma was the best suited alternative location to facilitate both the emergency medical technician portion of the course, as well as most of the rescue swimmer skills training in the pool.
“The Coast Guard has a critical shortage of aviation survival technicians throughout the enterprise and we knew the extra work necessary to make this happen was well worth the effort to continue populating the service with these dedicated and crucial coastguardsmen,” said Capt. Matthew Chong, commanding officer, Training Center Petaluma. “We are very excited about the success of this first class.”
The students began a resident emergency medical technician course, and all students graduated this six-week program, successfully earning their national registry emergency medical technician certifications. Historically, aviation survival technicians had to wait three to six months after graduation to attend emergency medical technician school, but with the aviation school now located at Training Center Petaluma the two courses are held concurrently.
The grueling rescue swimmer skills phase of the training was held at Petaluma and Norfolk, Virginia after the emergency medical technician school. This strenuous training has historically experienced a challenging drop-out rate but Petaluma’s first class experienced a historically high success rate of finishing with 75% of the class.
After graduating, these newly qualified rescue swimmers will head out to aviation units throughout the Coast Guard to qualify in real-time rescue scenarios. The aviation survival technician school will continue at Petaluma into the near future as Elizabeth City continues the process of fixing its facility. The next class begins training this month.