Hurricane Harveys aftermath will test the skills Civil Air Patrol volunteers learned at the recently concluded National Emergency Services Academy. Civil Air Patrol Director of Operations John W. Desmarais founded the Indiana training program in 1996 and said skills learned at the academy including photography will be put to use once the weather in Texas clears enough to sustain visual meteorological conditions.
CAP is working with FEMA and Texas state officials to plan sorties to collect imagery for damage assessment purposes as soon as feasible, likely starting Aug. 30 or 31, Desmarais noted.
The summer academies were designed, in part, to prepare attendees for natural disasters such as Hurricane Harvey which brought pounding wind and drenching rain to Texas that result in an often-lengthy cleanup.
The 2017 academy included 503 participants who learned or sharpened ground search-and-rescue techniques, aircrew skills, and incident command procedures. We do more training over those two weeks than some Wings will do over an entire year, noted Desmarais, whose initial class consisted of a few dozen attendees.
We literally had people from every state involved in the program, Desmarais told AOPA. Participants take a lot of the training back to their Wings, which are scattered throughout the United States, he explained. gives us a great capability to train folks that can then pass the skills and knowledge to other cadets and adult volunteers pretty amazing.
He noted that participants from all walks of life sharpened their skills at the emergency academy. We had doctors, lawyers, and nurses who in many cases took personal vacation time to do something different.
Desmarais said pilots logged more than 500 hours among 31 aircraft and 414 sorties during the special training in July. Additionally, 44 ground vehicles completed more than 750 ground movements.
The Civil Air Patrol operates a fleet of 560 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search-and-rescue missions.
This group will be doing what it does best assisting wherever and whenever the need arises.