Lt. Col. Paul R. Hertel
More than 500 Civil Air Patrol senior members and cadets are participating this month in the National Emergency Services Academy, a multidisciplinary training program scheduled for July 15-28. at Camp Atterbury, a 30,000-acre Indiana National Guard facility in Edinburgh, Indiana.
“This is Civil Air Patrol’s largest training event,” said John Desmarais, CAP’s director of operations and founder of NESA. Now in its 23rd year, the annual summertime program combines task-based training with practical application that has become the nationwide standard for CAP.
The academy consists of three schools, each divided into one-week sessions focusing on specific skills:
- Ground Search and Rescue School provides members the skills they need to expertly perform ground team operations, especially search and rescue missions.
- Incident Command System School covers the skills needed to be top-notch leaders and staff officers at the incident command post and other critical operating locations managing operations.
- Mission Aircrew School teaches critical skills pilots and other aircrew members need to stay at the top of their game supporting CAP’s varied airborne missions, like missing aircraft searches and airborne photography.
This training helps ensure CAP’s success in carrying out its missions, as many of those completing NESA training will go home and instruct others in the latest techniques. CAP aircrews flew 100,352 hours in fiscal year 2017, conducting search and rescue, disaster relief, air defense, counterdrug and numerous other critical missions. CAP was involved in 798 search and rescue missions and was credited by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center with saving 110 lives.
“NESA brings in experts from across the country to provide this training with one goal: to ensure that academy graduates are armed with practical knowledge and skills to support the varied missions of CAP,” Desmarais said.
NESA operates annually with a staff of about 100 – mostly CAP volunteers, complemented by instructors representing various federal, state and local agencies, including CAP-U.S. Air Force officers who monitor the training to ensure it meets Air Force standards.
A total of 34 courses, providing training for all of CAP’s emergency services mission specialty qualifications, are now offered at NESA, including training for mission chaplains and chaplain support specialists as well as training in how to operate unmanned aerial vehicles in support of disaster and search and rescue operations.