Each year the Civil Air Patrol’s South Dakota Wing holds statewide search and rescue training exercises. The first for 2015 was Saturday, Jan. 24.
The training is referred to as a “Split SAREX” (Search and Rescue Exercise), split because coordinated training is conducted simultaneously in the East River and West River areas.
Saturday’s focus was on training aircrews, ground search teams and command staff through search and rescue scenarios that mirror Civil Air Patrol’s real-world activity, according to CAP officials.
All five of the wing’s aircraft, six vehicles and 75 officers and cadets took part in the training exercise.
In the West River area an Incident Command Post was set up at the headquarters of the Rushmore Composite Squadron on Ellsworth AFB. Three CAP aircraft flew search and rescue sorties from the squadron’s hangar at the Rapid City Regional airport. In addition, one ground search team operated from the squadron headquarters conducting independent but similar training exercises as the aircraft.
In the East River area, a Staging Base was set up at the headquarters of the Big Sioux Composite Squadron at the Brookings Airport. Big Sioux’s personnel were joined by aircraft, vehicles and personnel from the Sioux Falls Composite Squadron. Under the control of Incident Commander Col. Mike Beason at Ellsworth AFB two CAP aircraft and two ground teams conducted training exercises similar to those in the West River area.
The Split SAREX gave participants the chance to work with wing units that don’t often have the opportunity to train together, officials noted.
The South Dakota Wing of the Civil Air Patrol, with squadrons in South Dakota in Sioux Falls, Brookings, Rapid City, Pierre, Custer and Spearfish has approximately 300 members, six aircraft and 17 multi-purpose vehicles.