Maritime operations officer for HM Coastguard

In an emergency, you need to talk to someone who can help. Working for HM Coastguard, Michele is the calm, friendly voice answering 999 calls.

But her path to this career wasn’t always plain sailing.


Michele was made redundant from her job as a senior administrator in August 2014.

‘When you’ve always been employed and are suddenly facing redundancy, you realise all the different skills you haven’t had to use in a long time,’ she says.

‘I didn’t really know where to start.’

Starting over

Michele decided to look for advice and contacted PACE. She met with advisers who helped her rethink the way she was writing CVs and application forms.

First up was condensing her CV from a hefty five pages to a more reader-friendly two.

When her dream job was advertised with HM Coastguard, Michele wanted go for it.

‘The advisers at PACE helped me with the application form. I would really have struggled to complete it without them.'

‘I’m a first responder with the ambulance service, and I thought working on the 999 side would be really interesting,’ she says.  

But the application form was tricky.

‘There’s certain criteria that they’re looking for and you need to hit key words – without necessarily knowing what they are,’ she says.

‘The advisers at PACE helped me with the application form. I would really have struggled to complete it without them. Their guidance on things like what wording to use was invaluable.’

A new job

Now, she’s a Maritime Operations Officer, dealing with 999 calls at the Maritime Rescue co-ordination centre in Stornoway.

‘Any 999 calls that are coming in will come through to us. We monitor all of the traffic going through the Minch. We can see where ships are going as they’re moving through the area and make sure they’re going in the right direction.’

The skills you need

‘If you’re taking an emergency call, you need to get as much information as possible,’ says Michele. You need to get the person to calm down, and you have to ask them relevant questions.

‘If we’re sending out the lifeboat, they need to know what kind of situation they’re facing. It could be dangerous, there will be challenges. The more information we get, the better equipped they’ll be to deal with it.’

Training on the job

Since starting the job, Michele has been learning new skills such as map reading, and studying how the coastguard operates.

‘I’ve had to study and will sit exams. It’s so different from what I’ve ever done before. I’m really enjoying learning new things.

‘It’s a fantastic job, and I really enjoy it.’