The U.S. Air Force Auxiliary Civil Air Patrol mobilized in May to rehearse disaster relief and search and rescue operations in support of Southland emergency relief. In this exercise, a missing aircraft triggered mobilization of the all-volunteer organization, which counts emergency services disaster response and search and rescue as primary missions.
Santa Monica airport was the incident command post, hosting logistics, communications and search aircraft. Tasking for emergency operations typically comes from the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Florida.
Over 30 volunteers from the Los Angeles County Civil Air Patrol were involved in training operations, flying three single engine Cessna aircraft and operating various ground vehicles, including mobile computerized communications systems.
The need to practice staging from Santa Monica airport became apparent early last week when CAP launched search and rescue operations to locate a missing small airplane whose flight path followed the local coast line. Lessons learned from that effort convinced CAP leadership that staging from Santa Monica will increase the number of available volunteers during a future search, particularly during traffic hours. “We are grateful to have this central location to prepare for the day we are needed for an actual emergency in West Los Angeles,” said Capt. Charles Christian, incident commander at the Santa Monica command center. “Civil Air Patrol volunteers and resources are ready to help our communities in any way we can and they’re proving it by taking part in this important exercise.”
Santa Monica airport is home to CAP Clover Field Composite Squadron 51. The Squadron has over seventy adult and youth members who focus on emergency services, aerospace education and cadet programs. “We are proud to serve our local community,” said Capt Mark La Rouche, Squadron 51 Commander. “Our cadets and senior members are truly ‘always vigilant’ against that inevitable day of true need.”
The Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s TotalForce, which consists of Regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about
85 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 70 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 58,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its Airmen additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Civil Air Patrol received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. Congressionally chartered 74 years ago, the nonprofit organization also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit www.capvolunteernow.com for more information.
CAP contact: Bill Daniels – [email protected] – (818) 433-8003