NSW/NSO/AIRR Mentor / Coordinator / Scout Naval Recruiting District-Minneapolis
BMCS Dan Ploussard, SEAL (Ret)
SOCS Eric Lundquist, SEAL
AWSC Aaron Albright, AIRR
As an Aviation Rescue Swimmer, you will be part of a tightly knit group, dedicated to being the top emergency response unit in the world. In this role, you’ll routinely put the lives of others before your own – applying your intense physical and mental training to challenging real-world situations where there’s often no margin for error.
Rescue missions. Recovery missions. Humanitarian assistance. Operational support. You may be called upon to contribute to any of these efforts. Thinking, acting and succeeding in the definitive task at hand: survival.
Without hesitation, you must be prepared to enter the most treacherous conditions to provide recovery and relief to those in need. That could involve jumping from hundreds of feet out of helicopters into the ocean. Utilizing your search and rescue swimming skills to ensure safety. Or using evasion, resistance and escape techniques to save those in need.
Some of the many duties you may have as an AIRR include:
•Saving pilots of downed aircraft, people aboard stranded or capsized vessels at sea or even hikers and mountain climbers in danger on land •Rescuing civilians during natural disasters and collaborating with other forces, such as the Coast Guard — like the joint rescue missions that saved thousands of lives in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and the tsunami in Indonesia •Working as a Crew Chief on a H-60 helo, where the primary duties are to make sure the rescue swimmer and the pilot are on the same page and to operate the hoist in rescues •Delivering aid and supplies to other countries in humanitarian operations •Providing support to Naval Special Warfare Operations •Conducting surveillance in anti-submarine warfare and drug interdiction operations •Transporting troops and cargo to and from ships
No college degree is required to become a Navy AIRR, but a high degree of difficulty and satisfaction come standard with nearly everything you’ll do. Training is tough and ongoing.
Training and Advancement
Whether it’s transporting other Spec Ops units or delivering supplies and aid, Aviation Rescue Swimmers must be prepared to operate in the challenging environments of those they assist. Because of this, AIRR training as true to life as possible and one of the most demanding, life-altering training programs in the Navy.
AIRR candidates undergo almost two years of training in advanced swimming and lifesaving techniques before reporting to their first squadron. Throughout training, candidates will be continually tested, mentally and physically, as they advance to more rigorous and challenging scenarios. Training includes:
Water and Land Survival and Flight Safety
•Four weeks at Aircrew Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida
Search and Rescue Swimming Skills
•Five weeks at Rescue Swimmer School in Pensacola, Florida
Basic Skills (required for rating)
•An average of 18 weeks (depending on source rating) at Class “A” Technical School in Pensacola, Florida
Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) Techniques
•Two weeks at SERE School in North Island, California or Brunswick, Maine
•An average of 24 weeks (depending on aircraft) at a Naval Air Station
Air Rescue Units
After graduation, an AIRR may be assigned to a Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron
(HSC), a Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS), a Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL), or a Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) at sea or on shore duty in the following locations:
•San Diego, Calif. •Fallon, Nev. •China Lake, Calif. •Whidbey Island, Wash. •Guam •Hawaii •Norfolk, Va. •Pensacola, Fla. •Jacksonville, Fla. •Patuxent River, Md. •Key West, Fla. •And various other locations throughout the U.S.
Advanced Education & Training
Enlisted AIRRs are passionate about jumping out of helicopters into the most extreme conditions. They would rather give someone a second chance at life than give orders. Based on performance and the needs of the Navy, you could potentially be eligible to receive additional training in:
•EMT training •Advanced Rescue Swimmer School (includes swift water, high seas, cave and cliff rescue training)
Senior enlisted AIRRs may also be selected to become:
•Schoolhouse Instructors •Weapons Instructors •Master Rappellers/Instructors
Aviation Rescue Swimmers (AIRRs) have one of the most physically demanding jobs in the world. When it comes to saving lives, their strength, speed and endurance decide whether a mission is successful or unsuccessful.
To qualify for Rescue Swimmer Training, you must:
•Males and females are eligible •Meet specific eyesight requirements: Uncorrected vision no worse than 20/100; correctable to 20/20 in both eyes with normal depth and color perception •Meet the minimum Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) score: VE+AR+MK+MC=210 or VE+AR+MK+AS=210
You must also complete the Physical Screening Test Requirements:
•Swim 500 yards in 12 minutes or less •Run 1.5 miles in 12 minutes or less •Perform 42 push-ups in 2 minutes •Perform 50 sit-ups in 2 minutes •Perform 4 pull-ups •Pass a Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL BUD/S physical fitness screening test in Boot Camp and in the Delayed Entry Program (DEP) in order to qualify
Upon successful completion of these entry requirements, a candidate can proceed with the Navy training that can ultimately make them part of the elite Aviation Rescue Swimmer community.