Search & Rescue Team Leader - External Roster

International Rescue Committee
  • Location
    New York, New York
  • Sector
    Non Profit
  • Experience
    Mid Career
  • Posted
    Aug 28

Position description

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) is among the world’s leading humanitarian relief and development organizations. For 80 years, the IRC has been at the forefront of every major humanitarian initiative to assist people uprooted by war, persecution, or civil conflict. The IRC provides lifesaving support to help people survive and re-build their lives, assisting people from harm to home. 

The world is witnessing the largest movement of refugees since World War II. In Europe, the IRC has aided refugees on the Greek island of Lesbos since July 2015. Our emergency teams have provided clean water and sanitation, medical care, information about rights and how to register, and safe transportation. Since October 2015, the IRC has also worked through local partners to aid refugees in Serbia as they attempt journeys further into Europe, providing food, clothing, hygiene items, essential information, and psychological support. Refugees fleeing persecution and violence continue to take dangerous and traumatic journeys to reach safety, including life-threatening journeys across the Mediterranean Sea. Thousands of refugees and migrants continue to perish while crossing the Mediterranean Sea in search of refuge and opportunity in Europe. Since 2014, nearly 1.7 million refugees and migrants, 43 percent of who are women and children, have made this perilous journey in overloaded vessels, entirely unsuited to the task. An additional 13,921 individuals have died in the attempt. The IRC has partnered with MOAS (Migrant Offshore Aid Station) to provide lifesaving Search and Rescue (SAR) operations in the Mediterranean Sea. The IRC will be responsible for post-rescue services for all rescued individuals from the point of rescue to disembarkation in Italy. It is anticipated that post-rescue services will be provided for approximately 400 individuals for 2-3 days at sea during rescue operations.

SCOPE OF WORK: The Team Leader will be responsible for the management of IRC post-rescue activities on ship, leading a team of four other people.  Reporting to the Response Coordinator on land and managing the Clinical Lead and Distribution Manager on ship, the Team Leader will act as the focal point for coordination and communication between MOAS and crew on ship.  

RESPONSIBILITIES: The Team Leader will manage the IRC team on ship, ensuring the provision of essential services for passengers from embarkation to disembarkation. Specific responsibilities will include:

Management and Leadership of IRC Post-Rescue Team 

  • Support the Clinical Lead to ensure they are able to deliver services on ship, facilitating smooth relations between MOAS and the ship’s crew.  
  • Support the Distribution Manager to ensure that food, water and NFIs are available for passengers onboard.
  • Facilitate regular team planning and review meetings
  • In collaboration with Clinical Lead, Distribution Manager and Supply Chain Coordinator on shore, ensure stocks are managed, procured and delivered in a timely fashion.
  • Oversee welfare and support to team, supporting access to specialist services if required.
  • Rotas for supervision

Communication and Reporting 

  • Act as focal point for communications between MOAS on ship, First Officer and IRC on land, ensuring information flows quickly and efficiently in a pressurised environment and enabling rapid, shared decision making.
  • Facilitate meetings between MOAS, crew and the IRC to ensure common understanding of plans, procedures and maintain good, open relations.
  • In collaboration with the Clinical Lead, ensure timely preparation of rescue reports with demographics of passengers, health and incident reports
  • Facilitate any visits hosted by the IRC on ship, ensuring that passenger dignity is respected and that ship regulations are followed.
  • Support the IRC team in the generation of communication materials on ship

Passenger Management 

  • Lead initial reception and registration of passengers, recording and sharing basic data with MOAS and crew, enabling the rapid production of accurate rescue reports.
  • In collaboration with the MOAS team, ship’s crew and IRC team, oversee the development of passenger management protocols
  • In collaboration with the First Officer, ensure safe installation of passengers, with particular care for vulnerable individuals and families
  • Support the Distribution Manager in overseeing timely, regular and safe distribution of essential relief items.
  • With Distribution Manager, act as a referral point for services, both ship-based and on-shore.
  • Deliver information sessions for passengers, including orientation on ship, destination preparation, basic public health messaging, process on land and basic rights.
  • With IRC technical advisors, map and strengthen referral pathways for passengers, and with the Clinical Lead, ensure smooth referral to relevant services on land.
  • Supervision (watches)

Safety and Security

  • Be responsible for monitoring and responding to the security of passengers on deck, including capacity management.  In collaboration with the First Officer, ensure a calm and dignified environment for passengers.
  • Ensure that security incidents are reported to First Officer and IRC Response Coordinator as soon as practically possible, following with written reports as appropriate.
  • Ensure IRC staff have undergone and are able to use relevant training.  Together with First Officer and Clinical Lead, ensure drills are conducted regularly by all staff, identifying skills and training gaps.  
  • Ensure relevant and effective Infection Prevention and Control measures are used by the IRC team and with the Clinical Lead, communicate these measures with the MOAS team and ship’s crew to promote safe and dignified practises. 

Feedback and Accountability


  • Be prepared to represent the IRC on shore with authorities and other agencies if required.
  • Recognising the highly pressurised and unpredictable environment, must be willing to take on additional roles and responsibilities as required 



  • University degree in related subject (International Relations, International Human Rights Law etc) 
  • At least five years management experience in field-based humanitarian programming.  
  • Previous experience of supervising health staff 
  • Fluent in English (written and spoken)
  • Must be a team player with excellent interpersonal skills and ability to work under pressure in a stressful environment, displaying patience, compassion and diplomacy. 
  • Ability to be innovative, flexible, adaptive, and willingness to work out of hours, sometimes throughout the night. 
  • Ability to live in challenging conditions.  


  • Working knowledge of French and/or Arabic. 
  • Previous humanitarian experience or experience working with migrant populations. 
  • Previous experience working at sea. 

Application instructions

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