It’ll be a busy weekend for members of the Civil Air Patrol in Iowa. Emergency services director John Halbrook says one of the events will team C-A-P volunteers with the Iowa National Guard, for a Homeland Security exercise at Camp Dodge.The patrol’s a relatively new player in the field he says, and will be bringing some of its expertise to bear show how it can support state and local government. In Davenport, the CAP volunteers will take part in an exercise that’s more the kind of thing the organization’s been doing for a long time. They’ll be training and practicing search-and-rescue skills, incident-management and communications, the kind of work the patrol does most of the time. Search-and-rescue’s evolved to become a unique, highly trained specialty field, Halbrook says. While in the past they’d just all go walk through cornfields, as they do in many actual searches, now they learn how to look for clues and signs as to where a person went, and how they went there. Many CAP volunteers are young and enthusiastic and Halbrook says that can come in handy when the work of the patrol proves longer and more difficult than they expect. There’s a well-developed stress-management program in conjunction with area mental-health professionals to help young volunteers deal not only with the stress of a search but also “what happens after the third day, when we have yet to find somebody.” Volunteers as young as 12 years of age are welcomed by the Civil Air Patrol, and they’ll be put in situation where they’ll learn and mature, and gain leadership skills.
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