We all know that Search and Rescue is the backbone of the the SLCG but what goes into making these Heros.
Today I sat down with Lt. Tersimus to see what it takes to be “The Best of the Best” in SLCG, get more insight on trainings and what goes in to training.
Nick: Tell us about SL Coast Guard Search and Rescue!
Tersimus: SAR is truly the “filet piece” of the SL Coast Guard. At the SAR TRACEN we add the “R” to a lot of activities the group offers. Many of our members joined after seeing our rescue teams in action. It is a strongly outward facing activity as we work not just for internal events but go out and save residents at the virtual seas when they invite us for a rescue roleplay. We are part of the face of the SL Coast Guard that we show to the marine and aviation community in Second Life. Our crews have a reputation to be reliable professionals and when we consider how “teleporting ashore” is always an option in this virtual world, every mayday we receive is a compliment to our group and an opportunity to win more hearts for our groups cause: safe boating.
Nick: Can you tell me what your role as SAR CO does?
Tersimus:The SAR CO manages operations at the SAR Training Center and Campus in Mokualii. My job spans across all things student-instructor relations, refining of existing study material and developing new materials, even new fields in which SAR qualities and trainings will play a role in the future. I am also developing and building gear we’re using in both training and missions.
I promote SAR in our group as a worthwhile activity and I’m regularly tasked to manage public event appearances, often moderating them and making sure we’re staffed plenty and looking great when invited to show off what we’re capable of doing.
My understanding of the role as SAR CO goes probably a little further than it was initially designed being the “SAR school principal” alone. I evangelize a lot how we can enhance the impact of SAR in as well as outside of the SL Coast Guard.
Our mission as a group is to promote boating safety and to strengthen a habit to wear PFDs. SAR missions – especially when we’re responding to inworld mayday calls from random residents – is not only reminding people to wear their PFDs. When we fish their posteriors from the water, it’s also taking part in making the whole marine and aviation experience rich, adding depth and our contribution to a detailed world, inviting others to play in a realistic way, too – ideally by employing proper safety measures aboard boats. I understand my role as gentle and benevolent preacher so we all keep this in mind and I keep nudging everyone to respond and run to save lives when the alarm goes.
Nick: What does it take to be trained in SAR?
Tersimus: SAR is special in many regards and differs a lot from most other activities in the SL Coast Guard. SAR missions are unscripted, non-linear adventures. Our members meet residents in danger, not knowing what they’ll find when they arrive on scene. Often it’s not only the roleplay-weather we struggle with, it’s thick lag, too, sims acting up and other delicacies. These missions are thrilling action, even nerve wrecking at times and so one needs a lot of their “cool” to laugh into the face of that beautiful mess out there.
Much of the SAR training nowadays is not just “learning the dance” but becoming familiar with our procedures and operational limits, leaving the actual split-second decision making what to do and how – within the limits set forth by policies – to the crews on scene.
We need people who are willing to learn the basic concepts at the SAR TRACEN, then willing to hone their skills in the many SAR drills the group offers and to then go out and apply actual competency – not following a script where the next step is clearly visible at all times – to situations that can be literally everything. Some survivors stand on the seabed or just float in the water… others make us the gift to spend quite some effort into creating elaborate emergency scenes. This can be stressful, but I promise, it is incredibly satisfying to land with a thankful survivor on a safe pad, maybe even handing them a prospective member package.
SAR training involves some reading. We have a comprehensive and always growing set of policies to give certainty about what’s within allowed actions and what’s not. It also takes an understanding of roleplay. The different styles we meet at sea are important for us to be an episode of someones greater storyline and we of course like to embed our appearance nicely.
Finally, especially relevant for becoming a SL Coast Guard Rescue Pilot, some skills and the grim will to learn the art of flying for SAR, which differs from your usual tea-party patrol, is needed.
Nick: How many Instructors do you have for training?
Tersimus: We currently have six SAR instructors and a few more SAR tutors, a special role that was created last year for our auxilliary course offerings like the Area Commanders Deck Watch Course we’re proud to host at the SAR Campus. We also have “SAR for Recruits” as well as radio courses, which our tutors support and even run. It’s an offer for younger members who like to work at the SAR Campus, even before they’re ready to start their certification training.
Nick: What type of aircraft and boats are used?
Tersimus: I have heard it a few times how we wouldn’t use this or that. So I am thankful for the question.
We use them all.
Fixed wing reconnaissance flights can be part of SAR and every single boat is good to save a life. Even the tiny Guardian RiB with a recruit in it can steal a survivor from death. Every vessel can save a life.
In the training we are working on the S&W platform: Dolphin, Tighawk and Orca for the certification. We do absolutely encourage our students to work towards their SLCG Master Aviator achievement and join the ranks of our Superhawk pilots. While the flight model differs and takes some training to master, the Superhawk has a lot of exciting roleplay options and is usable in many more places than the S&W-platform with it’s gear aboard.
Nick: Are there any rescue divers yet?
Tersimus: Rescue Divers are coming. We are in the process of training up our own instructors so we can open the gates for Rescue Swimmers who are also 1st class divers and being able to serve them.
With the remaining original author of the policies and training material being in a difficult situation in RL, not leaving much capacity for SL Coast Guard matters, we had a grace period in july to have her “spawn” more RDV instructors. This phase is about to end. In a different mode, we will man the course with instructors and hope to send the grand invitation to everyone in september.
Nick: Any new training coming for SAR soon?
Tersimus: I cannot predict HQs decisions about the coming proposals, as a disclaimer when you’re asking about plans.
On the end of small courses, there will formalized upgrade trainings for crews towards becoming experts on the Shergood platform as well as more on mayday management, employing tools like the radar system, Emergency Location Transmitters and such.
With the RDV being rolled out, the next major development I have the pleasure to work on in conjunction with BTC is the “Rescue Coxswain”. The “RC” shall be a new first step into the world of SAR that finally brings us boat borne SARs. To explain that a little: We never leave anyone in the water. Period. But it’s only a “SAR” when there is a SAR certified team acting. A certification option for the Coxswain who moves out with a rescue swimmer is overdue and a proposal will hopefully be ready by the time we are running smoothly with the RDV.
Nick: Now the big question on everyone’s mind is what is going on with the new PLH and when will it be released?
Tersimus: At the moment I am heavily prototyping on the visual design of the PLH2 and there is an “Advanced Flight Trainer” as byproduct (which everyone can have, if they like to join the testing of that). The schedule looks good, I am still looking at offering a functional prototyp in this month. This is of course not the release, but I am certain there will be version submitted for approval in the third quarter of 2020.
There you have it folks the scoop on SLCG Search and Rescue! SL Search and Rescue is always looking for new SAR crew, if you would like to be one of “The Best of the Best” just contact LT. Tersimus
I want to thank LT. Tersimus for taking the time to sit down with me and chat.