17:05 PM

FEMA Corps Volunteers Learn About CAP at National HQ

Group of 6 Also Attends NESA

A FEMA Corps team from AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps learned about Civil Air Patrol’s missions and programs while serving this summer at National Headquarters.

The six volunteers, ages 18-24, call themselves FEMA Corps Team Ocean 4. The group consists of members from across the country.

The service team helped assist CAP’s Aerospace Education Program with its plans for an AE open house at the upcoming CAP National Conference in San Antonio. Members also helped clean out and organize the CAP warehouse at National Headquarters at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama. They assisted as well with radio maintenance in the National Technology Center and operation of the National Headquarters HF radio station on the CAP National Traffic Network.

“Having members of the FEMA Corps here this summer has been great,” said John Desmarais, CAP’s director of operations. “They’ve contributed mightily to a number of projects, in particular their work with the National Technology Center. We’re grateful for their service and appreciate this partnership between AmeriCorps, FEMA and CAP.”

The Ocean 4 team members have a heart for public service.

“I think that volunteering in programs such as FEMA Corps offers a lot of benefits,” said the team’s leader, Brendan Sinchak, a former U.S. Army infantry officer from Youngstown, Ohio. “First, it is a chance to give back to communities all across America. I think it is important that young adults expose themselves to new ideas/cultures/communities and try to understand them. I also think that volunteering is a good way to do some self-discovery.

“The members of this program are looking for their next step toward a career or higher education. This program can help them identify their values and skills and let them discover ways in which they can apply those things in ways that maybe they didn’t know were possible.”

So, what have team members learned about CAP and its missions?

I personally had not heard of Civil Air Patrol prior to this project,” Sinchak said. “I was quite amazed at the assets CAP has and how a mostly volunteer network uses those assets to do some important work throughout the country. From what I have seen from working alongside CAP the past month or so, I have really come to appreciate the high-quality force CAP can provide, especially in emergency services.”

Ocean 4’s CAP experience also included participation in NESA, Civil Air Patrol’s National Emergency Services Academy in Indiana, in July.

“Being immersed with Civil Air Patrol was a strong learning experience for me during the National Emergency Services Academy,” said Hao Mach of Lynn, Massachusetts. “As a team, we were able to take classes in air search and rescue as well as classes from the Incident Command System School.

“CAP is an auxiliary of the Air Force, but at the same time FEMA has tasked CAP with missions to provide photos of flooding or disaster-related infrastructure damage. With AmeriCorps NCCC working alongside FEMA, it was fascinating to see other entities intertwined with emergency management,” he said.

His colleagues also benefited from the NESA experience.

“My time at NESA was astounding. Seeing the cadets work so hard and be passionate in a possible future career that teaches discipline and leadership was amazing,” said Moniesha Griggs of Philadelphia, the team’s media representative.

"I was in Wilderness Advanced First Aid, and I learned about different insect/snake bites and how to address open and closed wounds. I also learned how to treat spinal and head injuries. In all, I enjoyed my two weeks learning the tactics of responding to emergencies and getting to know new people,” Griggs said.

Jessica Reed of Martinez, California, Ocean 4’s assistant team leader, said, “I have learned through this assignment at CAP National Headquarters that there is so much that goes into this nonprofit organization. It takes a lot of work and committed volunteers to be able to do what CAP does.

“I was able to experience this dedication while attending NESA,” Reed said. “Being able to meet CAP members from all around the country was amazing, to hear their stories and how much service they have done just from simply wanting to and expecting nothing in return.”

Lloyd Lewins of Portland, Oregon, learned to appreciate CAP’s main assets — its single-engine planes and its professionally trained volunteer force. “I learned a lot about the importance of airborne assistance when conducting either search and rescue or disaster damage assessment missions.

“I also learned about CAP’s organizational structure and the distribution of wings across the country that allows CAP to respond everywhere,” he said. “Most importantly, I learned about the skill and dedication of CAP members!”

Corey Brennan of Las Vegas said his time with CAP taught him that time and resources are most important when dealing with emergencies. “Being a planning team, our job is to make sure those things match up where they need to and that everything is in order,” he said. “Going to NESA and seeing how plans are made outside of FEMA and how they are implemented was a great experience.”

Desmarais expects the relationship among AmeriCorps, FEMA and CAP to continue.

“We hope to be able to host more teams like this in the future, and that some of our members also participate in FEMA Corps,” he said. “There is a lot of potential for CAP and FEMA Corps to work together and gain from our shared interests.”