Sunday, May 13, 2012

CAP cadets to be evaluated by Air Force - Cookeville Herald Citizen

by Amye Wright Herald Citizen

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WHITE COUNTY -- Area Civil Air Patrol cadets are gearing up for another search and rescue practice exercise this month in anticipation of an evaluation by the United States Air Force in June.

On May 19, CAP cadets will participate in those simulated search and rescue scenarios and, in June, CAP cadets statewide will participate in one put on by and be critiqued by the Air Force.

Those evaluations will be used to help make improvements to CAP response.

"This is a big deal for us," Hugh Cameron, Region Vice Chief of Staff, said.

The Upper Cumberland Regional Airport will be hosting the practice and evaluation missions.

During the event, the teams will be communicating through a "high bird," a very high airplane, Cameron says.

From there, transmissions will be sent through between two or three other aircraft and multiple ground teams.

"It just adds that level of difficulty," he said. "Another thing is, the issues are stronger. Meaning, the entire Upper Cumberland area could be affected by maybe one or two major issues."

The cadets won't know the exact scenario until the day of the evaluation but one example of the mock search and rescue event could be responding to an earthquake and flood.

"It's like one scenario effects another kind of scenario in terms of the overall mission," he said. "So, you have to be on your toes."

Additional variables, such as mock power loss, could be thrown into the mix further challenging cadets' ability to adapt and respond effectively.

"They help us improve both our organization as well as our response capabilities," Cameron said. "It's just like in school with a test. You do some things probably pretty well and some things you need to work on."

Cameron expects the CAP cadets will do well in most categories.

The CAP typically participates in these evaluation drills every other year.

On average, the CAP saves an average of 80 lives per year through real-life search and rescue missions. In order to be able to complete these tasks, members and cadets -- ranging from 12 years old through adulthood -- are highly trained through a series of activities and courses.

Upon completing their initial training phase, cadets earn the Gen. Billy Mitchell Award entitling them to enter the Air Force at a pay grade of E-3 -- should they choose to enlist.

The Air Force evaluation event, Cameron says, will take place during the third weekend of June.

For more information about the CAP program, visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com.

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