NEWS - Youngest rescue volunteer hits the high seas

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Sixteen-year-old Jessica Lighton is Marine Rescue NSW’s youngest fully-qualified volunteer

NEWS - Youngest rescue volunteer hits the high seas
NEWS — Youngest rescue volunteer hits the high seas

Teenage volunteer Jessica Lighton has become the youngest full member of Marine Rescue NSW after completing probation and training last April.

As a member of the Port Stephens Marine Rescue NSW team, the 16-year-old has already taken part in nine marine emergency search-and-rescue missions, each involving a boat with engine failure that required towing.

"So far my favourite role is radio operator," said Jessica. "I explain to the caller where we are and what we plan to do and I keep in touch with base, advising them what’s happening. Deck and tow work is also exciting, as that’s closer to the action."

According to Jessica, it was her father Ron Lighton, a senior member of Marine Rescue NSW Port Stephens, who inspired her interest in boating at a young age.

"Dad would come home from his volunteer marine rescue duties every Saturday with exciting stories of the rescues he’d performed," Jessica said. "I was itching to get out there myself. I love being on the water and I love helping people, so Marine Rescue seemed like a logical step."

Since completing a six-month probation period, Jessica is now trained in essential Marine Rescue NSW protocol. Training modules included advanced boat handling and proficiency, radio operations, navigation and meteorology, first aid, emergency response and management. This accredited training is free to all Marine Rescue volunteers.

"Many elements of the training will help me in the future, in whatever career I choose," Jessica said. "For now, I really enjoy my time on the boat each week. In the morning you have no idea what you will be doing for the day, then a call comes in from someone needing help and it’s all systems go."

Marine Rescue NSW provides search-and-rescue, marine radio communications and boating safety education with more than 50 units and bases from Eden to Point Danger.

Last year alone, Marine Rescue NSW said it responded to emergency calls from more than 2400 boats with almost 6000 people on board. As well, the organisation offers an opportunity for young Australians interested in boating to meet others who share their interest, acquire a high standard of boating skills and make a difference in the community.

Anyone interested in becoming a Marine Rescue NSW volunteer should contact Headquarters, phone (02) 8071 4848 or visit

Photo: Marine Rescue NSW’s youngest fully-qualified volunteer, 16-year-old Jessica Lighton from Nelson Bay.


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