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Emergency Services

Director of Emergency Services – Lt Col David McCollum




Growing from its World War II experience, the Civil Air Patrol has continued to save lives and alleviate human suffering through a myriad of emergency-services and operational missions.

CAP Ground Team conducting a search and rescue operation

Search and Rescue  Perhaps best known for its search-and-rescue efforts, CAP flies more than 85 percent of all federal inland search-and-rescue missions directed by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fl. Outside the continental United States, CAP supports the Joint Rescue Coordination Centers in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. Just how effective are the CAP missions? Nearly 100 people are saved each year by CAP members.

Disaster Assessment  In the last several years, CAP has taken on bigger roles in some of the nation’s biggest catastrophic events. Providing aerial support and photography for many of our partner agencies. In addition, Civil Air Patrol makes extensive use of the Airborne Real-time Cueing Hyperspectral Enhanced Reconnaissance system, mounted on the Gippsland GA8 Airvan. The system is able to evaluate spectral signatures given off by certain objects, providing a view and perspective never before seen by many of our partner agencies. As well, the CAP training program has adapted the FEMA National Incident Management System curriculum as part of our member qualifications allowing us to fully integrate when we’re needed. In May of 2013, the Oklahoma Wing undertook the first ever large scale, ground-based photo reconnaissance mission for FEMA following the Moore, Oklahoma tornado. In total, more than 15,000 high resolution photographs were provided to FEMA in an effort to help their assessment process.

CAP - Moore Patch

Disaster Relief  Another important service CAP performs is disaster-relief operations. CAP provides air and ground transportation and an extensive communications network. Volunteer members fly disaster-relief officials to remote locations and provide manpower and leadership to local, state and national disaster-relief organizations. CAP has formal agreements with many government and humanitarian relief agencies including the American Red Cross, Federal Emergency Management Agency, Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board and the U.S. Coast Guard. Recently, several hundred members of the Oklahoma Wing supported the recovery efforts in Moore after their devastating tornado. Our organization had several hundred boots on the ground in the hours after the tornado struck.

CAP Performs Missions for America

Humanitarian Services  CAP flies humanitarian missions, usually in support of the Red Cross-transporting time-sensitive medical materials including blood and human tissue, in situations where other means of transportation are not available.

Air Force Support   It’s hardly surprising that CAP performs several missions in direct support of the U.S. Air Force. Specifically, CAP conducts light transport, communications support, and low-altitude route surveys. CAP also provides orientation flights for AFROTC cadets. Joint U.S. Air Force and CAP search-and-rescue exercises provide realistic training for missions.

CAP Aircrews provided some of the first aerial views of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina

Counterdrug CAP joined the “war on drugs” in 1986 when, pursuant to congressional authorization, CAP signed an agreement with the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Customs Service offering CAP resources to help stem the flow of drugs into and within the United States.

CAP aircrews and ground personnel provide transportation for cargo and officials, aerial imagery to aid emergency managers in assessing damage, and donations of personnel and equipment to local, state and federal disaster relief organizations during times of need. In 2011, several tornadoes hit throughout the state of Oklahoma; CAP was instrumental in providing help to affected areas.

Following the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City when all general aviation was grounded, one of the first planes to fly over the destroyed World Trade Center was a CAP aircraft taking photographs.

CAP Aircrews mission planning

CAP performs several missions that are not combat-related in support of the United States Air Force, including transportation of officials, communications support and low-altitude route surveys. As recently as March of 2012, CAP provided aerial patrol assistance to the Secret Service when President Obama visited Cushing, Oklahoma.

In addition, the CAP fleet is used in training exercises to prepare USAF pilots to intercept enemy aircraft over the Continental United States. Civil Air Patrol aircraft are flown into restricted airspace, where Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon and F-15 Eagle pilots may practice high-speed intercepts. CAP also assists the United States Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Drug Enforcement Administration, and United States Forest Service in the War on Drugs. In 2005, CAP flew over 12,000 hours in support of this mission and led these agencies to the confiscation of illegal substances valued at over US$400 million.