Civil Air Patrol members assist in USAF Disaster Exercise

  • Tuesday, May 20, 2014

At 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday, May 14 approximately 60 Civil Air Patrol members from throughout South Carolina arrived outside the 628th Aeromedical Squadron building on Charleston AFB ready and willing to volunteer their time and services in an effort to help others. However, this time they were not the rescuers or the search party, but instead the victims. For this event, cadets and senior members from five different squadrons throughout South Carolina Wing were acting as casualties and victims for the United States Air Force, United States Army, and various other Upstate South Carolina agencies. Named Exercise Blazing Fury, this mock scenario only occurs once per year, and tests the United States Air Force's capability of stabilizing and transporting victims of a local earthquake to available hospitals in the upstate.

Upon their arrival, Civil Air Patrol volunteers were bandaged up and “moulaged”, or given mock injuries, to increase the realism of the event, were assigned various sicknesses, and were quickly escorted by members of the 315th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron and 1st Combat Camera Squadron to a waiting C-17 Globemaster III on the flight line. The makeshift casualties were then quickly loaded on to the plane via stretchers and walking, and were flown from Charleston to Greenville-Spartanburg International Airport by members of the 701st Airlift Squadron. Upon arrival, United States Army personnel, aided by a number of agencies such as EMS, Community Emergency Response Teams, and Hospital Emergency Response Teams quickly unloaded and in-processed all of the participants, assessing their medical conditions and transporting them to local hospitals for further care.

The collection of tents set up at the edge of the Greenville-Spartanburg Airport serves as a staging ground and triage center for the patients, says Patient Reception Coordinator Jeff Straub, and the operation is composed of four major parts: litter bearers to get the victims into the center, clinical workers who address the medical condition and mental health of the patients, patient administration that documents and catalogs all patients' arrival, condition, and transport to the hospitals, and the EMS who transport the casualties from the staging area to the various hospitals, not to mention support and assistance provided by other organizations such as the American Red Cross and Salvation Army. Mr. Straub, who was the acting commander of the site, went on to say that the exercise was operated by the National Disaster Medical System, or NDMS, and has two main roles: offloading patients from the site, and processing, stabilizing, and transporting 80 patients in less than a 24 hour period. Upon returning from the hospitals, CAP members helped the other volunteers break down the site, and returned to Charleston with the help of the 14th and 701st Airlift Squadrons.

Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 60,000 members nationwide. CAP performs 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 71 lives annually. Its volunteers also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. The members play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 25,000 young people currently participating in CAP cadet programs. CAP has been performing missions for America for 73 years. For more information, visit www.gocivilairpatrol.com, or contact Capt. Steve Hyland, Coastal Charleston Composite Squadron Commander, at stevehyland@stevehyland.com.

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