Interested in Search and Rescue? Emergency services (ES) is a big part of CAP. You can do anything, from searching the woods for a downed aircraft to running the radios at a mission base. Cadets have been credited with locating downed aircraft, finding missing persons, helping in the wake of natural disasters, and saving lives. ES is an extremely rewarding activity that will help you get the most out of CAP.
It’s easy to get started. First, take the general emergency services exam (CAPT 116 – see here for instructions). It’s your license to learn and required before participating in any ES training. Afterward, you can select a specialty track, of which you have 4 options.
Specialty Track: Ground Team
Ground Team Member 3 (GTM3) is the basic level of a ground team member, which goes up to level 1. The function of a ground team is primarily to conduct searches in wooded areas normally not easily accessible by vehicle or aircraft. They are expected to be able to take care of themselves and help their fellow team members in the field for up to 24 hours. At level 3, you carry a 24 – hour pack that contains various items to support you for 24 hours. You will have the opportunity to train up to GTM1 (certified to work in the field for up to 72 hours) if you choose this track, which is essentially an assistant team leader.
Urban Direction Finding (UDF) prepares you for duties involving the electronic detection and tracking of emergency signals in urban areas. UDF teams typically do not venture into the ‘woods’ but rather operate in and around urban areas, including airports, docks, ports, and other facilities. Their pack is much less extensive than that of a ground team member, as they are working in an urban environment where many needs are generally more accessible. In the case of group level ES operations, ground team members and UDF teams are essentially equal.
Specialty Track: Mission Base Assistant
Mission Radio Operator (MRO) normally operates radio stations, whether it be a mobile base in the field or at mission base. They will normally maintain contact between both ground team and aircraft, and relay information to and from mission base. Generally, no equipment is necessary to function in this capacity. Once you receive this qualification, you can train to become a communications unit leader, where you oversee communications across the entire mission, write emergency plans and supervise MROs.
Mission Staff Assistant (MSA) is an entry-level job at mission base. MSAs work closely with the radio operator. You will provide status updates on ground teams or aircrew, sign members in and out of the mission, and check qualifications. No equipment is necessary to function in this capacity. MSAs normally receive training on the radios and will operate them in the absence of an MRO, if deemed sufficiently qualified. No training directly follows this qualification, though many cadets choose this qualification as their first ES track, since it is fairly simple to complete and eases you into more advanced ES qualifications.
How to get training. Training for specialty tracks is accomplished in several ways:
- TRAEX – attend a Training Exercise run by our group (Catskill Mountain Group) or NY Wing. They’re normally held 4 to 5 times a year.
- NESA – National Emergency Service Academy – week-long intensive summer camps that prepare cadets for many ES specialty tracks. See the category for Operations Training under National Cadet Special Activities for more information. Encampment is a prerequisite, so attend the summer after your first promotion, if possible.
- FEMA courses – many tracks require completion of one or more online FEMA courses. See this page for a chart of required FEMA courses and links to them. You’ll need to register for a FEMA Student ID (SID) before beginning any course.