Civil Air Patrol’s Emergency Services program is its most publicized activity, striving to serve America's communities, save lives, and shape futures by performing operational missions for local, state, tribal, and federal agencies.
South Dakota Wing was credited with one life saved during FY2022 resulting from emergency response missions. Nationally, CAP performs 95 percent of the inland search and rescue missions tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) and was credited with 151 lives saved during FY22.
South Dakota Wing can provide services that are both effective and economical because CAP’s aircraft have a low cost-per-hour to operate. In a larger mission, South Dakota Wing can serve effectively as an Air Branch, and call in additional resources from CAP wings in adjoining states, if needed.
South Dakota Wing’s recent operational missions, in addition to missions for AFRCC, have included:
- COVID vaccine transport
- Missing person searches
- Damage assessment aerial photography
- Low-level route surveys for Ellsworth AFB
- Serving as aerial intercept targets for the SD Air National Guard F-16s
- Radar coverage studies for NORAD
South Dakota Wing’s six single-engine aircraft based around the state, ground vehicles, and scores of trained personnel can be deployed on short notice for specialized emergency response and agency support
Local, state, or tribal authorities wishing to use CAP’s services should click on the appropriate button below:
Local authorities typically ask South Dakota Wing to assist in missing persons searches several times a year. CAP’s high-wing single-engine aircraft are ideal for slow flight allowing visual air-to-ground searches.
South Dakota Wing has small Unmanned Aerial System drones and trained operations teams that can search hard-to-reach areas.
South Dakota Wing can also call in CAP’s expert Cell Phone Forensics team to identify the last known position of a cellular phone through GPS and/or towers contacted.
Emergency managers across the country task CAP members to perform airborne damage assessment photography after floods, tornados, hurricanes, and other natural disasters.
South Dakota Wing uses DSLR cameras, operated by trained photographers, to chart the scope and severity of areas impacted by disasters for local and state authorities.
CAP aircraft can also provide light airlift in and out of disaster areas. Ground teams can assist with shelter management, communications support, and other disaster relief needs.
Searching for missing aircraft has long been a premier mission of Civil Air Patrol, although modern Emergency Locator Transmitter (ELT) technology has reduced the number of accidentally-triggered ELTs that CAP must, nevertheless find and deactivate.
South Dakota aircrews and ground teams are trained in use of direction-finding radio equipment to seek ELTs, as well as visual searching. CAP ground teams can provide survivors first aid and crash site security.
CAP volunteer members train regularly for aircrew, ground team, and other mission specialties needed in search and rescue and disaster relief efforts. Pilots, observers, scanners, radio communicators, operations, flight line, radiological monitoring, public affairs, logistics, supply, safety, administrative and other personnel all respond to thousands of missions annually.
In addition to extensive FEMA training, CAP’s emergency response training includes Air Force-specific requirements and internal CAP mission management policies.
In addition to local training in CAP units across the state, South Dakota Wing conducts several state-level exercises a year to elevate operational experience and identify areas requiring refinement. These exercises are funded by the Air force and, where appropriate, can incorporate inter-agency personnel and communication channels.