SD CAP Wing slates search and rescue exercise

RAPID CITY, S.D. — More than 150 Civil Air Patrol cadets and senior members from South and North Dakota and the region will participate in a search and rescue exercise in Custer this week with several governmental and nonprofit organizations.

The event comes at the end of the weeklong 2013 Joint Dakota Emergency Services Encampment, which teaches cadets leadership and emergency services skills.

The exercise, also known as a SAREX (search and rescue exercise), begins Thursday afternoon July 18 and continues through Saturday July 20. The incident command and staging base will be at the Custer County Airport (CUT).

The primary goal of the SAREX is to provide cadets with the opportunity to practice the skills they learned during the encampment, according to CAP officials. Senior members will also receive training.

“CAP has a very structured training program for Emergency Services Qualifications,” said Maj. Craig Goodrich, commander of Rushmore Composite Squadron and project officer for the SAREX. “That training requires our members to participate in exercises like this to get the experience required for qualification in various positions.”

The exact practice scenarios are only known by a few but they will likely include missing persons and missing aircraft. Incident command staff will assign mission base staff, ground teams and aircraft crews for the realistic practice missions. Air and ground search and rescue, communication, and airborne photography training will be provided to participants.

Collaboration with local emergency response agencies is an important aspect of the exercise, CAP officials noted. Custer County Search and Rescue, the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the South Dakota National Guard will be involved.

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