The United States Coast Guard's airborne "rescue swimmers" are trained at its enlisted Aviation Survival Technician/Rescue Swimmer school in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. The course is 18 weeks long; more than three times the length of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps schools. The course includes instruction on rescue techniques, helicopter deployment techniques, and a myriad of technical skills from small engine repair to parachute packing and maintenance. Successful completion of this course results in being awarded the Aviation Survival Technician rating, the technical rating for a variety of aircraft and survival equipment maintenance.
After completion of A-School, all AST's are sent to Petaluma, California to attend the U.S. Coast Guard's Emergency Medical Technician school. After three weeks of EMT training, they must take and pass the National Registry of EMTs EMT-Basic test as part of their qualification as a helicopter rescue swimmer.
Full qualification as a rescue swimmer can take up to a year from the first day of A-School, as graduates must learn the aircraft systems and emergency procedures of their assigned aircraft.
Prior to a realignment of enlisted aviation rates throughout the Coast Guard circa 1999, the AST rate was called ASM, Aviation Survivalman.