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LACMN Sarah Christenson and Lt Cdr Rob O’Kane, Senior Observer 771 NAS
LACMN Sarah Christenson and 771 NAS Sea King
LACMN Sarah Christenson
Sarah and George Christenson

First female SAR Aircrewman

Published: 19 Oct 2013

Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose based 771 Naval Air Squadron (Search and Rescue) is proud to welcome onboard the first fully qualified SAR female “Aircrewman”, Leading Aircrewman (LACMN) Sarah Christenson.

 The inspiration for Sarah to join the Fleet Air Arm and train to become a SAR Aircrewman originated in the rescue of her father on the 18th July 2005. She and her father, George had been scuba diving off the wreck SS Helopes from the dive boat ‘Portway Diver’ inMountsBay when George surfaced with a nose bleed and as a precaution, Rescue 193 was called. 

 Part of the crew for that shout included Lieutenant Commander Rob O’Kane, now Senior Observer of 771 Squadron. “We had just launched for our daily training flight when the call came in from Falmouth Coastguard so we immediately routed to the vessel before lowering the winchman to assess the casualty. We then decided it was best to transfer him direct to the recompression chamber in Plymouth from where he made a speedy recovery”. 

LACMN Sarah Christenson remembers the incident vividly which provided her with the inspiration to train to become a Royal Navy SAR Aircrewman. Now that this day has arrived, she was doubly proud that it was Rob who presented her with the RN SAR Certificate and that she also had the opportunity to show her father around 771 Naval Air Squadron when he visited. Sarah has now joined the other 10 Aircrewman in 771 Naval Air Squadron, all of whom are trained to not only rescue any casualties wherever they may be but are medically trained to Hazardous Environment Medical Technician (HEMT) standard (equivalent to NHS Ambulance technician) in order to provide the most suitable medical care during the rescue and subsequent transfer to the nearest suitable hospital. 

“I am immensely proud to receive this certificate and to join the distinguished group of aircrew who have been continuously saving lives in this, the 60th anniversary of RN helicopter SAR” said Sarah.


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