CAP Marks 4th Straight Year with 100+ Saves
For the fourth consecutive fiscal year, Civil Air Patrol has passed the century mark in lives saved, as credited by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center.
CAP, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, conducts approximately 90% of all search operations within the U.S. as assigned by the AFRCC.
The 100th and 101st save occurred Aug. 4, when CAP’s National Cell Phone Forensics Team provided the Wyoming Joint Operations Center with a high-priority area to focus search efforts for two lost hikers in Big Horn County. Using cell phone forensic information gathered by the team earlier in the morning, local searchers found the hikers alive and returned them to safety later that morning.
“And with that, we moved to 101 lives saved in fiscal year 2020,” said John Desmarais, CAP’s director of operations, who said the two saves using cell phone forensics were typical of most of those credited to CAP in recent years. “More than 90% of our saves occur with the support of the cell phone team.”
CAP totaled 158 saves in fiscal 2018, a new record for lives saved in a fiscal year. In 2019 and 2017, CAP was credited with 117 and 110 saves, respectively, by the AFRCC.
“What especially makes Civil Air Patrol a strong Total Force partner is how they complement the efforts of the other partners to serve our country,” said Maj. Gen. Bryan Radliff, reserve adviser to the commander, First Air Force, Air Forces Northern. “Closely aligning resources to the mission requirements and maintaining operational readiness—even during the COVID pandemic—is something we rely on and CAP delivers."
Desmarais said the 100-plus-saves trend over the past four years reflects CAP’s continuous advances in technology and training in one of the Air Force auxiliary’s primary missions – emergency services.
Since its inception in late 1941, CAP has traditionally performed search and rescue missions by operating the world’s largest fleet of single-engine piston-powered aircraft to search for missing people and overdue aircraft. More recently, it is CAP’s innovative technology, like cellphone forensics and radar analysis, that have enabled the organization to be even more efficient in finding the lost or disoriented.
“Our technology has evolved as we have adapted and developed our tools and our training to make performing search and rescue and other emergency services missions more efficient,” Desmarais said,“Leveraging tools like cellphone forensics and radar analysis make it faster and easier to help find people and planes, even in situations where it is not possible to launch one of our aircraft due to poor flying conditions, remote locations or other factors.”
Saving lives never gets old, as every successful CAP search and rescue mission is celebrated with an alert from Desmarais to the organization’s national command team.
The alerts always elicit a response from members of the team, as was the case following the rescue in Wyoming.
"This is outstanding in every way,” said Chief Master Sgt. Robert M. Dandridge, CAP’s national command chief. “Over a hundred saved lives and counting ... with many thankful and happy families reunited. Great outcome, CAP.”