Great Lakes Shipmate of the Week: Coast Guard Ice Rescue Trainer Course Instructors, Essexville, Mich.

A team of five instructors led by Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Abold delivered the Coast Guard’s Ice Rescue Trainer Course this winter at the National Ice Rescue School in Essexville, Michigan.  

This is the third season of delivery of the Coast Guard’s newest resident “C” School.

Pictured left to right: Petty Officer 3rd Class Drew Marod (Station Saginaw River), Petty Officer 3rd Class James Poe (Station Michigan City), Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Abold (Ninth District/Lead Instructor), Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike Starr (Station Two Rivers), and Petty Officer 2nd Class Jim Myjak (Station Sheboygan) on the ice at the National Ice Rescue School in Essexville, MI. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Pictured left to right: Petty Officer 3rd Class Drew Marod (Station Saginaw River), Petty Officer 3rd Class James Poe (Station Michigan City), Petty Officer 1st Class Justin Abold (Ninth District/Lead Instructor), Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike Starr (Station Two Rivers), and Petty Officer 2nd Class Jim Myjak (Station Sheboygan) on the ice at the National Ice Rescue School in Essexville, MI.
U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Serving alongside Abold for a second year as instructors were Petty Officer 2nd Class Jim Myjak from Station Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Mike Starr from Station Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Joining the instructor staff for a first season were Petty Officer 3rd Class Drew Marod from Station Saginaw River and Petty Officer 3rd Class James Poe from Station Michigan City, Indiana.  The instructors gathered in early January for a week of course preparation, setup of training rooms and equipment, and to form as a team.

Six consecutive one-week IRTC courses kept the instructors busy through late February. They delivered the Ice Rescuer Course at Station Portage, located in Dollar Bay, Michigan, in December to eight ready for operations exam teams assisting in their preparation for winter RFO’s. They also delivered the IRC to trainers from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators promoting standardized training nationwide.

“Instructors at the National Ice Rescue School are the most proficient ice rescuers in the Coast Guard,” said Abold. “Their proficiency ensures that students graduate with the ability to deliver a standardized ice rescuer course to their unit and to local SAR partners.”

Almost one hundred ice rescuers from Coast Guard 9th District and 1st District units and Coast Guard Cutter Healy were trained in the classroom, in the pool, and on the ice.

They graduated from IRTC with the skills and course materials to deliver the IRC to unit personnel and local ice rescue partners. Ultimately, effective delivery of the IRTC ensures that Coast Guard ice rescuers and local partners are properly trained and prepared to work safely and effectively in the most challenging winter environment.

“The instructors were excellent. Very knowledgeable, professional, and great at training trainers,” said one IRTC student. 

“Ice rescue is dangerous work done in the harshest conditions, said Mike Hudson, NIRS School Chief, describing the importance of their work. “There is risk with every evolution. This standardized training is designed to ensure the safety and effectiveness of ice rescue teams.” 

In addition to teaching the IRTC, the instructors have been involved in the ongoing development of new ice rescue equipment and procedures.  

The National Ice Rescue School also serves as the Coast Guard’s Ice Rescue Operations Training and Excellence Center, identifying and evaluating new equipment, personal protective equipment and ice rescue procedures. This winter instructors worked on developing procedures for rescuing multiple victims and animals.

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