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ES Weekend May 2019

Saturday May 5, 2019
by C/Major Joshua McCoy

Real Training for Real-World Events

Butler Composite Squadron 712 Hosts Emergency Services Training Weekend


It is easy to think that we will never find ourselves or our loved ones in a situation where we need to be rescued, but these situations do occur, and when they do, it is of the utmost importance that emergency personnel be prepared to respond to them.  It is for this reason that Civil Air Patrol believes in training its members to participate in emergency services, as shown by the Emergency Services Training Weekend organized by Group One of Civil Air Patrol’s Pennsylvania Wing and hosted at Civil Air Patrol Butler Composite Squadron 712’s headquarters.

Pennsylvania Wing Group One contains seven squadrons, Squadrons 602, 603, 704, 712, 606, 1502, and 601, representing Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Greene, Somerset, and Washington Counties. Many of these squadrons have large numbers of members, many of which are relatively new to the program and have not undergone extensive emergency services training.  Unfortunately, though, most of these squadrons lack access to a suitable area where they can practice this training at their regular weekly meetings, so opportunities for extensive training are somewhat of a luxury. Additionally, other squadrons lack the personnel or materials needed to carry out such training, so in order to provide all squadrons in the group with a maximum opportunity for emergency services education, Group One organized a communal, multi-squadron training weekend on 4-5 May 2019, hosted by Butler Composite Squadron 712 at the Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Airport, therefore enabling all participating squadrons to share their emergency services assets, including space, qualified instructors, and educational materials.  The result was a great opportunity for cadets of various ages and experience levels, from various squadrons, to gain experience and develop their skills in emergency services, therefore fulfilling the cadet oath, in which cadets swear to “...advance my education and training rapidly, to prepare myself to be of service to my community, state, and nation.” Group One Commander Major Earl Gardner urged his groups cadets to make use of this valuable opportunity.

The emergency services training given at this event entailed a variety of different components.  Since a vast majority of the cadets participating were relatively new to the program and lacked emergency services experience, they were given an opportunity to obtain Civil Air Patrol’s entry-level emergency services training, which is called General Emergency Services and consists of a series of online courses about safety and emergency preparedness.  Cadets who had already completed this level of the training were then able to pursue more advanced emergency services qualifications, which entails more advanced and specialized training, including training in navigation and communication with aircraft through signals. Additionally, all participating cadets had the opportunity to camp overnight in the wooded area behind Squadron 712’s headquarters, which provided an opportunity for cadets to practice setting up a camp in an emergency services mission setting.  

Overall, this training weekend was very popular with the cadets, many of whom stated that they had found it both enjoyable and educational.  Cadet Staff Sergeant Zachary Fenio stated that he had the opportunity both to mentor other cadets and to be mentored by them. “I enjoyed working with people that have never really had the chance for emergency services training like that,” he said.  “I would like to do this more often.”


Giving Directions... Assisted by Squadron 712 senior members, cadets from Squadrons 712 and 603 practice making signals on the ground that are visible to aircraft.  Here, they point an aircraft in the direction shown by the arrow.  



Around the Campfire... Cadets from the various squadrons participating in the training weekend gather around the fire at the base camp they set up and review what they learned during the day.  


Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 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 80 lives annually. CAP’s 63,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 26,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs.


What else does Civil Air Patrol do to prepare for emergencies? What can you do to help? Want to learn more?


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