The Untapped Potential of the Civil Air Patrol

The Untapped Potential of the Civil Air Patrol

30 Sep 2014

In everyday life, we all face problems such as allergies, unpleasant weather and relational tensions, to name just a few. These things sometimes seem cumulative, and they can diminish the focus on our ambitions and goals. However, there is a potential for much greater conflicts that could concern us all. They include natural disasters, terrorism, family tragedies, and many other distressing situations. They are the events that can blindside us in our weakest moments.

In times of crisis, those who will most often aid us will be police officers, firefighters, paramedics, doctors, and organizations such as the American Red Cross. There are also volunteer organizations in which one can find help such as the Civil Air Patrol. “CAP” is the official civilian auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force with three missions:  emergency services, aerospace education, and cadet programs. The organization consists of both teenage youth and senior members ages 21 or greater.

A Civil Air Patrol Cessna aircraft on display with other critical Air Force resources. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jerry Harlan; USAF photographs are in the public domain).

A Civil Air Patrol Cessna aircraft on display with other critical Air Force resources at 1st Air Force headquarters. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Jerry Harlan; USAF photographs are in the public domain).

Civil Air Patrol has far more potential than what may be realized by our communities and states. CAP can provide search-and-rescue (SAR) efforts for missing persons and downed aircraft through both aerial support and ground search teams. In fact, nearly 100 people are saved by CAP efforts annually. Besides SAR, Civil Air Patrol can provide humanitarian support to organizations such as the Red Cross, often by distributing life-saving materials or providing aerial photography. CAP also plays a significant role in natural disaster relief by offering communications support and air or ground transportation. Finally, CAP has a unique dedication to counter-drug efforts by simultaneously assuming a non-polemical stance and encouraging healthy lifestyles among our youth.

Perhaps one may then question, “Why Civil Air Patrol?” when there are trained police officers and firefighters in the community. Actually, CAP can be a great asset. Consider the scenario that a tornado has razed our hometown community. When the police and fire departments are over-tasked, CAP can lend a helping hand in many of the same efforts. In terms of search-and-rescue, many CAP members are specially trained in these operations and can be of assistance to local authorities.  Besides these reasons, CAP is a volunteer organization; therefore, the members’ intrinsic work ethic can lead to great performance and save taxpayer money.

Cadets learn first aid skills to prepare for their role in ground search-and-rescue teams (picture by 1st Lt Deborah Leighton, NC052/PAA).

Cadets learn first aid skills to prepare for their role in ground search-and-rescue teams (picture by 1st Lt Deborah Leighton, NC052/PAA).

The closest Civil Air Patrol unit to Mocksville is headquartered at Sugar Valley Airport. Its membership totals around 45, including both teenage youth and adults. The squadron has three precise areas of interest. First, it is obtaining emergency services training so that it can easily respond to incidents within the community. The squadron also demonstrates a great interest in teaching and exploring the wonders of flight, aerospace, and technology. Finally, it serves to develop the leadership potential that they see in each cadet member.

In late August, the unit hosted a weekend for search and rescue training. Five experienced cadet staff members taught survival, navigation, and search skills to all the people who attended. The students learned first aid and CPR from a qualified paramedic and a medical doctor. Everyone also participated in a series of highly realistic exercises where students were tasked with goals and were expected to serve as search team members. The 25 participants came from across the triad and elsewhere, learning the necessary knowledge and skills that in the future may save lives in our hometown community.

CAP has been part of Davie County for generations; the two-year old Sugar Valley Squadron is heir to a long tradition of service. (Picture courtesy of Lt Col James Williams [retired]).

CAP has been part of Davie County for generations; the two-year old Sugar Valley Squadron is heir to a long tradition of service. (Picture courtesy of Lt Col James Williams [retired]).

Overall, the Civil Air Patrol is a real asset to our communities. It has a great ability to serve others through search-and-rescue, humanitarian efforts, and disaster relief. It has the potential to aid our police departments and rescue squads in times of crisis. In Mocksville, the squadron located at Sugar Valley Airport develops our youth, advances our aerospace knowledge, and betters our emergency-preparedness as exemplified by the very successful weekend of SAR training held this summer.

For more information about Civil Air Patrol, visit gocivilairpatrol.com. To obtain details about the Sugar Valley unit, please contact 2d Lt Joanna White, squadron public affairs officer, or see www.nc052.org.

Share

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *