Marco Island's Civil Air Patrol completes search and rescue training


The Marco Island Senior Squadron, FL-376, Civil Air Patrol (MICAP) hosted a Search and Rescue Exercise (SAR/EX) on March 10 and 18. The training was a joint venture that included members from the Naples Senior Squadron, the Charlotte County and Sarasota Composite Squadrons, and Group 5. In total, 23 members actively participated.

The Marco Island Senior Squadron, FL-376, Civil Air Patrol (MICAP) hosted a
Search and Rescue Exercise (SAR/EX) on March 10 and 18.

The missions were based on the following assumption: "A Category 5 hurricane has just passed through southwest Florida causing severe damage from Everglades City along the coastline, including Naples, Fort Myers, Punta Gorda, Sarasota and the surrounding areas."

Eight different scenarios allowed the teams to hone their skills in disaster assessment with aerial photography and grid pattern searching.

MICAP operated its mission base and radio station out of the remaining portion of its building at the Marco Island Executive Airport. Hurricane Irma destroyed the hangar section of the building.

More:Huge community loss: Civil Air Patrol hangar destroyed during Irma

More:Knocked down, but not out: Marco's Civil Air Patrol returns to the skies

More:Marco Island Squadron members receive state, region and national CAP recognition

The SAR/EX was a complete success. Two aircrafts, one from Marco and one from Sarasota, flew 13 air missions over a period of two days.

Major Robert Corriveau, MICAP's commander, praised the groups' efforts. 

"Let me say that we had a great SAR/EX even though we had to cut it short due to weather. We did, however, manage to accomplish seven sorties on the first day and six on the second day," he said. "The atmosphere was one of camaraderie, teaching and learning. Much was accomplished in a short period of time. Thanks to all who participated and who made this all possible".

SAR/EX missions and training are some of the essential activities performed by CAP. They often include the following: Search Pattern practice, which means looking for simulated downed aircrafts or boating vessels in distress; Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) signal searches, both from the air and on the ground; downed and lost helicopter simulations; and other targets of interest.

During the sorties, many high-resolution, geotagged reconnaissance photos were taken by the CAP airborne photographers using the Nikon handheld and Garmin VIRB-Elite under-the-wing cameras.

The Marco squadron is able to continue to provide services to Marco Island and Collier County, and to host SAR/EX missions in southwest Florida, in spite of a destroyed hangar. It's mission-ready and continues to perform its weekly training and preparedness missions, as well as assisting with training missions in support of Homeland Security.

While Irma destroyed MICAP's hangar, the patrol is moving forward. The hangar debris has been cut away and removed from the building and surrounding area, and the site has been cleaned up and is ready for construction. Next step: rebuilding.