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Emergency Services

Since 1941, Civil Air Patrol has strived to save lives and alleviate human suffering through a myriad of emergency services missions of Search and Rescue, Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Services. CAP also carries out Counterdrug Operations and Drug Demand Reduction programs under the auspices of its Emergency Services mission.

Search and Rescue

Perhaps best known for its search and rescue effort, CAP flies more than 85 percent of all inland search and rescue missions in the continental United States as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, based at Langley AFB, Va.

Civil Air Patrol volunteers are on call 24-hours a day, 7-days a week, to provide search and rescue services to the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, the U.S. Coast Guard, rescue coordination centers in Alaska, Hawaii and Puerto Rico, and state and local agencies. Missions are initiated to locate missing aircraft, aid aircraft crash victims, search for missing persons, rescue people in distress, locate the source of emergency locator transmitter signals, transport blood or organs, and transport search and rescue dog teams. Each year, CAP is credited with saving about 100 lives.

Disaster Relief

Civil Air Patrol plays a vitally important role in disaster relief operations, providing air and ground transportation and an extensive communications network in times of disasters. CAP often works alongside other agencies in the disaster-relief business to improve responsiveness and to minimize human suffering.

Following disasters, volunteers provide damage-assessment services for state officials, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Guard, and state and county emergency management agencies. CAP volunteers support flood-relief operations, monitoring water levels, stream flows and flooding projections. Ground operations include sandbagging, dike patrol, managing emergency shelters, and staffing disaster-relief hotlines.

CAP aircrews also provide real-time, slow-scan television images of flood-ravaged areas. The images can be transmitted directly from an aircraft to an emergency operations center, which greatly augments a center's ability to coordinate with other relief agencies. Aircrews also transport medical supplies to county health departments and fly medical doctors over flooded areas so that they can assess potential health problems.

Through memorandums of understanding, CAP supports many humanitarian relief and emergency management agencies. These include the National Weather Service, American Red Cross, Federal Aviation Administration, U.S. Forest Service, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Salvation Army. These agreements outline services each agency may provide to the other in times of disaster or other humanitarian crises. CAP is also part of the FAA's SARDA (state and regional disaster airlift) program. SARDA organizes private industry, government, and the general aviation community to provide emergency evacuation of communities.

Counterdrug Operations

Civil Air Patrol provides its immense infrastructure to support the federal and state war on drugs. CAP provides transportation, communications, reconnaissance, and eradication support for the Department of Defense, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Customs Service, U.S. Forest Service, and state and local law enforcement agencies. CAP has been tasked to provide rapid-response reconnaissance for the Southwest border. CAP supports these efforts with more than 5,000 volunteers, who go through a security check and training by either the U.S. Customs Service and/or the Drug Enforcement Administration. Each year, CAP interdiction efforts assist in confiscating or eradicating billions of dollars worth of illegal drugs. Because highly trained volunteers provide CAP services, the agency's costs are minimal and the return to the taxpayer is immense.

Drug Demand Reduction

In addition to its drug interdiction efforts, Civil Air Patrol is involved in an education program to encourage America's youth to remain drug free. The program, led by volunteers, is cost effective, placing the limited funds CAP receives for this effort where it will accomplish the greatest good ó in the local communities. CAP's Drug Demand Reduction program provides alternatives to drug use through senior leadership, mentoring, training, alternative activities, and programs to prepare youth for success in life. CAP's Drug Demand Reduction program is funded by and is in direct support of the U.S. Air Force Drug Demand Reduction initiatives.