Every year, members of the Civil Air Patrol volunteers thousands of hours to provide local communities with search and rescue services and disaster relief. These services are provided by CAP members that have put countless hours into their own education and training to prepare for such events.
Civil Air Patrol trains with its partners in the Red Cross and Federal Emergency Management Agency to provide relief to communities stricken by natural disasters. This relief comes in many forms: volunteers to staff local shelters, whole-blood transport using CAP aircraft, and photo-reconnaissance of damaged areas to assist in directing relief efforts.
Search and Rescue
Civil Air Patrol members train in the regime of wilderness Search and Rescue. CAP works with the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center to search for downed aircraft and lost people. While CAP members are training in a variety of search techniques, much of CAP’s field work comes in the form of signals intelligence, primarily from Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT’s), but also in the form of cell phone connections. However, when locator beacons fail, CAP systematically searches an area using a combination of air assets and ground teams. It is thanks to this unique training and equipment that Civil Air Patrol is called on for 95% of all in-land search and rescue missions. It is in this role that CAP has been credited with saving 100 lives every year.
Key to providing these services is avoiding becoming a victim of a disaster while attempting to respond to it. To this end, Civil Air Patrol provides training to make its members self-sufficient in the field. This training includes the basics of navigation, preparedness, and shelter building. While survival training at most squadrons is limited to 72 hours’ worth of supplies, CAP offers multiple survival schools that teach techniques that would allow someone to survive indefinitely in the wilderness.