07 June 2010
CTWG: 801st SARX
New Fairfield Citizen News
The New Fairfield Fire Department (NFFD) and the local Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Squadron conducted a joint Emergency Services exercise near Squantz Pond State Park, simulating the Search and Rescue techniques that would be used in the event of an aircraft crashing deep in the woods. This was the first joint CAP-Fire Department exercise in New Fairfield and gave the two organizations an opportunity to coordinate operations with each focusing on their area of expertise.
The Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX) began with the simulated report of a distress signal emanating from the Candlewood Lake area that was reported to be from a missing single-engine aircraft with 3 passengers. Upon receiving the alert, a Civil Air Patrol aircraft was launched from the Danbury Municipal Airport to pinpoint the location of the crash using technologies in the aircraft that allow for a sophisticated search and the ability to locate at distress signal from a downed airplane. Captain John Freeman, a New Fairfield resident, was among the pilots that flew the four flights needed to conduct the search “from the air.”
Once the CAP aircraft had located the area of the simulated crash, the CAP Ground Team, using vehicle and handheld devices that tracked the distress signal, was able to locate the site of the crash deep in the woods. Upon securing the crash site, the CAP Ground Team notified the New Fairfield Fire Department (NFFD) which dispatched a fire truck, an ambulance and a customized Gator (ATV) to perform a deep woods medical evacuation. When the Fire Department (FD) got on scene, they found the victims, who were portrayed by CAP cadets, each with a different simulated injury. The Fire Department’s Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT’s) triaged and prepared the “casualties” for evacuation, starting with the most critical. The EMT’s transferred the patients to the Gator (ATV), which shuttled the patients through the woods to the ambulance that was waiting on the main road. It took less than twenty minutes to get all three “casualties” evacuated.
Both NFFD Company A Captain Mike Skelly and CAP Major Ken Chapman agreed that the Joint Search and Rescue exercise was a success. The exercise met its goal of demonstrating the capabilities of both the Civil Air Patrol and the local Fire Department to work together in a joint Emergency Services capacity in the event of a search and rescue situation that required aerial search/surveillance or that involved a distress signal emanating from an airplane, a boat or a missing hiker.
Submitted by Maj Ken Chapman
New Fairfield 801st Cadet Squadron, Commander