The Civil Air Patrol is conducting its annual emergency training at Alert Academy, near Tyler, this week.
The week-long series of classes in Big Sandy will wrap-up on Saturday and offer a range of instruction for volunteers interested in developing or improving their skills in search and rescue-related specialties, according to a news release.
Civil Air Patrol, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with 61,000 members nationwide, operating a fleet of 550 aircraft, the release states.
It performs 90 percent of the country’s land search and rescue missions and is credited with saving an average of 80 lives a year
Its volunteers perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies.
The annual LoneStar Emergency Services Academy in Big Sandy drew in about 100 air patrol personnel from across the southern Unites States and from as far as Hawaii.
The academy includes classroom space, dormitories, and 2,300 acres of wilderness terrain for air and ground missions, said Lt. Col. Steve Kintner, of Longview, LESA director of air branch operations.
Courses included aerial photography, communications, ground search and rescue, public affairs, mission aircrew school, as well as training for mission staff and wilderness first responders.
“What we do here at LESA is, in one package, in a more formal setting, we sit down in a classroom and we take them, in a very detailed way, through everything they need to know as a mission pilot,” Kintner said in the release.
Bringing together Civil Air Patrol members from different states increases readiness for real world response, said Col. Brooks Cima, Texas Wing commander and LESA director.
“There’s a learning curve that you have to establish in a time of emergency,” Cima said. “You don’t want to have to do that in a time of emergency, so coming together for exercises like this is a great way of saving time when there is an actual disaster and lives need to be saved.”
Patrol members will conduct comprehensive communication, safety and first aid, and administrative support instruction using aircraft.