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Maryland Wing Completes an Essential Search and Rescue Training Exercise

March 7, 2022

Granite, MD -- Imagine a day starting with a routine trek in the back-country woods on a crisp fall morning. Five miles into the hike, you lose your footing, fall down a steep-sided ravine, and are now laying on the forest floor with a broken leg and likely internal injuries.  While frantically digging in your pack for your cellphone, you realize you left it back at the car.  Consequently, calling for help is not an option.  You now find yourself stranded, unable to walk, at risk of going into shock, and now shivering due to the changing autumn temperatures. 

Fortunately, you understand that unforeseen situations arise and are a well-prepared hiker.  You activate the personal emergency location positioning (ELP) device that you carry as part of your emergency kit.  Your ELP beacon is received by the US Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) and in turn, the AFRCC dispatches a nearby Civil Air Patrol Wing to your general location.  Within an hour, Civil Air Patrol airborne and ground-based search and rescue (SAR) teams are in route to initiate operations on your behalf.  To conclude, within three hours of ELP activation, you are located by a SAR team and under a warm blanket being carried out to a trailhead where an ambulance is waiting.

Approximately 2,000 people are lost in the woods annually across the United States.  Most outdoors enthusiasts, even the most skilled and veteran hikers, trust they are not going to be one of the many unlucky souls; however, one can never be one hundred percent certain due to unanticipated circumstances such as a tumble, severe injury, quickly changing weather conditions, taking a wrong turn, or a combination any of the mentioned.

One hundred Civil Air Patrol airmen from across Maryland joined at the Ocean City Municipal Airport to participate a vital search and rescue training exercise (SAREX) on March 5, 2022. This Maryland Wing SAREX combined search and rescue operations with disaster relief-oriented situations such as the stated hiker situation.

Cadets mapping out route during SAR exercise this past weekend at Ocean City MD Airport MD Wing officers planning during SAR exercise this past weekend at Ocean City MD Airport

On this day, eighteen aircraft sorties and thirty-three ground sorties were effectively completed.  Participating members leveraged the opportunity to sharpen respective skills on flight operations, first aid, search and rescue techniques, small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) operations, and incident command post processes.CAP aircraft taking off during SAR exercise this past weekend at Ocean City MD Airport

Maryland Wing also participated in a separate communications training exercise held by the Civil Air Patrol National Headquarters.  The communications exercise offered the opportunity for the Maryland Wing to test and develop methods to integrate Civil Air Patrol communications systems with its aircraft; and better support community partners from across the greater Chesapeake Bay region.

Being prepared for any emergency demands, knowing how to respond, and the ability to perform in a variety of tough situations is essential to Civil Air Patrol’s continued readiness. The Maryland Wing regularly partakes in search and rescue, disaster response, and homeland security correlated exercises across the state, in turn assisting national, state, and local organizations with crisis and terrorism preparedness. 

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 or follow the wing on Facebook (@MarylandWingCivilAirPatrol). 

Established in 1941, Civil Air Patrol is the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force and as such is a member of its Total Force. In its auxiliary role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 single-engine Cessna aircraft and more than 2,000 small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) and performs about 90% of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center. Often using innovative cellphone forensics and radar analysis software, CAP was credited by the AFRCC with saving 130 lives in fiscal 2020. CAP’s 54,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. As a nonprofit organization, CAP plays a leading role in aerospace education using national academic standards-based STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. Members also serve as mentors to over 20,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. One of the premier public service organizations in America, CAP benefits the nation with an estimated economic impact of $209 million annually. Visit www.CAP.News or for more information.

For More Information:

1st Lt Jeffrey T. Robertson; Public Affairs Officer, Maryland Wing;

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