St. Mary’s Squadrons Support Maryland Wing in Boy Scout Orienteering Exercise
September 30, 2020 — ST. MARY’S, Md. — Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Maryland Wing (MDWG) ground teams from St. Mary’s Composite and Esperanza Middle School squadrons joined MDWG staff and squadron ground teams from Calvert, College Park, Howard, Mt. Airy, Cumberland, and Bethesda-Chevy Chase on the morning of September 12, 2020 to participate in a scheduled MDWG search and rescue exercise (SAREX). Over sixty members gathered to participate in this event hosted at Broad Creek Boy Scouts of America (BSA) Reservation Camp Oest in Whiteford, MD; and worked together on training and executed real-world searches in support of the BSA in this annual event. Some ground teams traveled almost three hours away to participate in this SAREX.
On this day, the BSA held their 44th Annual Maryland Scout Orienteering exercise. CAP assisted the BSA in searching for lost Scouts and providing medical first aid if needed. Shortly after arriving at the training site, CAP airmen were briefed on safety, taskings and other activities planned for the day. Taskings included four assigned sorties to practice search and rescue while remaining on standby if any Scout experienced trouble. Members from Howard Composite Squadron who are also Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) spent the day at the first aid station providing first aid and conducting training with CAP members.
During the morning briefing CAP Major Terri Taylor, one of the onsite EMTs, held a short class on “Exercise Universal Precautions” focused on providing broader awareness of air borne and blood borne pathogens. Because of the current state of COVID-19, all CAP members and Boy Scouts were required to wear masks. Maj. Taylor emphasized how to protect oneself with others during this session. She also demonstrated how to properly put on and take off gloves in a first aid emergency.
Participating airmen were organized into six search teams of eight members. Each team was given sorties to learn, lead and practice their ground search skills. As the teams deployed to complete assigned tasks, twelve members remained at the main training site to complete work on Familiarization and Preparatory training which is required for gain awareness of safety practices and procedures.
During the morning hours a report was received that a couple Scouts were late in returning to camp as scheduled. Consequently, CAP Lieutenant Colonel Robert Thompson, the acting Ground Branch Director (GBD) pulled a ground team from the practice field and redirected it on a real-world search mission. Respective Scouts were located without incident. The GBD also dispatched a second team to respond to a beaconing Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) later in the morning, As part of the exercise, the GBD reported a MDWG aircraft would be overhead supporting operations and searching for the practice ELT within 10 minutes of the request for support.
All participating search teams returned from the field without incident only to be directed to respond to a simulated aircraft crash site as they settled in for lunch. The teams arrived on site and were instructed on how to use signal mirrors and ground panels to alert and signal the aircraft.
The dispatched search teams returned to the MDWG Tactical Incident Command Post after practicing employing mirrors and signal panels as part of operations; and continued with their training until all search teams returned to base for debriefing.
CAP Colonel Wes LaPre, the Maryland Wing Commander, addressed the MDWG members and thanked everyone for coming out during this trying time with the Coronavirus pandemic going on. He also expressed his thanks to everyone for keeping their masks on, observing social distancing and being safe.
Colonel LaPre also thanked Lt. Col. Thompson for all the time spent preparing for the one-day exercise along with CAP Lt. Col. Vas Konecny who transported the Tactical Incident Command Post trailer to the training location.
Following the debrief session, several members continued training with some members working together with the EMTs at the first aid station practicing stretcher maneuvers while others learned about mobile radio repeaters.
Despite the long drive home, participating St. Mary’s and Esparanza squadron members felt the day was very worthwhile because they received excellent training at a well-organized event, and convey their appreciation to the SAREX organizers and the other squadrons that participated.
Due to Maryland Governor and CAP National Command COVID-19 response directives, this is the first time since March 2020 that MDWG has been able to work together in an air and ground SAREX.
St Mary’s Composite Squadron meets every Wednesday from 6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. at St Mary’s Regional Airport; however, with Coronavirus pandemic, meetings are currently held virtually. For information on the squadron, including meeting address and contact information, visit www.md089.capunit.com . Follow the squadron on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/CAPStMarys/ and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CAPStMarys .
Nearly 1,500 members serve in Civil Air Patrol’s Maryland Wing. Last year, wing members flew 13 actual search and rescue missions. Overall, the Maryland Wing flew 32 missions for the State of Maryland, flying 2,245 hours in all mission categories, and was credited with four finds. Volunteers contributed services estimated at $4.6 million. For information, contact the Maryland Wing at mdwg.cap.gov or follow the wing on Facebook.
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, Civil Air Patrol operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 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 82 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 61,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. In addition, Civil Air Patrol plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to over 25,000 young people participating in Civil Air Patrol’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com or www.CAP.news for information.
Maj. David Webster, St Mary’s Composite Squadron
Photo credit: Maj. David Webster, St. Mary’s Composite Squadron