One of the courses that was recently held, was the English language ACO-course (short for Aircraft Co-Ordinator course), conducted by the Finnish Border Guard between the 8th and 12th of April. The course provided knowledge to those who may be designated to perform the duties and responsibilities of the Air Traffic coordinator for a search and rescue incident, mostly defined in the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual (IAMSAR).
The course was open to foreign participants and was offered through the ECGF Training Exchange Programme. One of the foreign participants on this course was Ms. Rebeca Vilanova González from the Spanish Maritime Safety and Rescue Agency (SASEMAR). She participated in the programme to get the chance to find out about how different coast guard organizations around Europe function.
The focus of the course was on training the students in the functions and tasks of the Air Coordinator in a maritime SAR-situation.
Great education in new surroundings
Ms. Vilanova González was particularly happy with the training she received at the Finnish Border and Coast Guard Academy. The ACO-course was created with the aim of assisting states in meeting their own SAR needs, and the obligations they accepted under the International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979 and the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), 1974. Despite the subject being new to her, she felt that she could follow the education, gaining insights into the needs and requirements of aircraft pilots in SAR situations.
She felt that the course gave her readiness to plan ahead and prepare for maritime distress situations. She plans to take the lessons she learned home and share them with her colleagues at SASEMAR. Furthermore, she hopes for the continuation of the exchange programme and encourages others to apply in the future.
International connections and support
Apart from learning about an important topic, Ms. Vilanova González got to meet new people from organizations such as Frontex and Finnish Border Guard, and learn more about various functions, such as the work of air traffic controllers. She sends her thanks to the instructors Niklas, Juho and Jukka from the Finnish Border and Coast Guard Academy.
The course covered a multitude of tasks in all simulated weather conditions.
Ms. Vilanova González also appreciated the support and work of the organizers of the ECGF Training Exchange Programme, which is coordinated by the Spanish Maritime Safety and Rescue Agency (SASEMAR). The exchange programme is organized within the EU-funded European Coast Guard Functions Academy Network (ECGFA NET) project. The project is led by the Finnish Border Guard.