The Emergency Services mission includes search and rescue and disaster relief operations. CAP members’ talents have augmented the Air Force in search and rescue and disaster relief since CAP’s formation in 1941. CAP has assisted the nation in times of disaster and in emergency situations when its resources could be used.
The primary mission objective of Emergency Services is to save lives and relieve human suffering. To be effective, the lives of CAP personnel performing missions must be safeguarded. CAP demands professionalism in organization, training, and mission execution to accomplish this service. Only qualified members are allowed to participate in actual missions.
CAP conducts a variety of operational missions primarily in the areas of Emergency Services: Search and Rescue (SAR), Disaster Relief (DR), Counterdrug (CD), and Homeland Security (HLS). Most of this is done in CAP’s role as the United States Air Force Auxiliary as Defense Support to Civil Authorities (DSCA) under Title 10, but CAP also provides assistance to State and Local authorities in many cases before there is a defined Federal interest under Title 36 as well
Search and Rescue (SAR)
All CAP personnel who participate in SAR operations are volunteers who have been specially trained. A SAR mission is always a serious and critical endeavor. Therefore, CAP units may not participate in a SAR mission unless they have people trained to quickly and successfully accomplish the mission. Life-saving techniques, attained through prior planning and practical exercises in performing the tasks required, must be carried out with speed and effeciency. SAR missions can be quite involved, with many functions and activities to be supervised and accomplished.
Disaster Relief (DR) Operations
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the single point of contact within the federal system for disaster relief planning and management. This includes civil defense, natural disaster, and man-made emergencies. CAP has national-level agreements with many government and non-government relief agencies. Included are such organizations as FEMA, the American Red Cross, and the Salvation Army. CAP also has agreements with local agencies at wing levels and participates with the various state and local emergency management offices. CAP DR missions may include courier and light cargo transport, manual labor for debris removal, air and ground transport for cargo and non-CAP key personnel, and mercy missions such as blood, organ, and patient transport.
CAP has no law enforcement authority; it only provides “eyes.” There is a national level agreement between CAP and the US Customs Service that allows CAP to fly surveillance missions to assist customs agents in the control of drug traffic. It may also support various Department of Defense activities in a non-combatant role in missions such as airborne control of surface vehicle traffic, courier service and light cargo transport, communications relay, airborne visual and photographic damage assessment, military low level training route safety surveys, and radar installation flight tests and controller training.