Civil Air Patrol’s emergency services program is
designed for you to serve effectively in a crisis anywhere in the world. It gives you
opportunities to develop poise by putting theoretical followership and leadership knowledge to work. It’s also
fun to develop a “mission mindset” for maximum preparedness.
Below, minimum requirements are listed for getting started. Be diligent and work through them a little every day so you can
experience the true gratification that comes to those who put aside lesser things. We expect you to take responsibility
for following through and to ask questions* when you feel stuck. Do not delay or you may miss a life-changing
Indiana Wing conducts
annual search-and-rescue exercises in different locales every February, May, and August. Other training
opportunities happen at the local and regional level throughout the year; see
Indiana Wing’s calendar for all dates and our
squadron web site for dates we are planning to attend,
though you can go without anyone else. With advance permission, you can also participate in other wings’ trainings
and SAREXs and apply for special activities like National Emergency Services Academy
(Camp Atterbury), Lone Star Emergency Services Academy (Texas),
SAR Academy (Michigan),
Hawk Mountain Ranger School (Pennsylvania), and the
Air Force Pararescue Course (New Mexico).
I’m sorry it’s not easier to create a checklist for you; print this guide and turn it into a checklist with a pen. Mark it up
and make it work for you.
Here are the major steps in a nutshell:
- Join C.A.P., finish level one (2-6 weeks)
- General ES test (1 hour)
- Radio intro course (2 hours)
- Staff assistant prep (1 hour+)
- Urban direction-finding prep (1 hour+)
- Basic ground team prep (optional, ?? hours)
- Air crew prep (18+, optional, ?? hours)
1. Join Civil Air Patrol and finish level one
The first steps for prospective cadets are to attend our open house on April 1 or November 4, 2020. After that, visit two
more meetings, become a member, finish the Curry achievement
, and acquire
a complete ABU uniform
. This can be done in just a few weeks. While waiting for an open house, get a head-start by memorizing
the Cadet Oath on the last page of the New Cadet Guide
and begin putting into practice everything that is written in that guide.
Prospective adults must also visit three meetings, but don’t have to wait for an open house. After expressing your decision to
join, you will be interviewed; pass a background check;
join C.A.P. as a full member
; finish the Level 1 Orientation; and acquire a uniform (polo combo, complete ABU, or blue BDU).
Expect this to take 4-6 weeks. While you wait, you can continue with most of the steps below.
2. Pass the open-book general ES test
Communicate to our ES Officers, 2LT Nardoni or C/2LT T. Bagnall, that you want to begin emergency services training. They will arrange
to meet you early next Wednesday evening to complete the GES Test. It is open-book and has no time limit, but plan on
an hour or more for discussion. Know of another cadet or adult who may be interested? Bring them along, too!
At this time, we can also discuss what ES direction(s) you may want to go and the general steps to get there. Parents are welcome to
join us for this so you can get some questions answered.
3. Pass Introductory Communications Training and rehearse the radio alphabet
To be helpful at any type of event, you need to know how to properly use a radio. ICUT is ten brief lessons that prepare you to do that. Sign
into the learning management system
, click Go to AXIS
scroll down for Introductory Communications User Training
, and click Start to begin watching each video and then take the short quizzes.
Take good notes as you go so you can easily pass each quiz, and keep them handy so you can review before your in-person evaluation at the next
exercise. If it helps to have a visual progress tracker, print this checklist
and keep it near.
Estimated time to complete, including note-taking: 2 hours
Another way to reinforce the mission mindset is to regularly rehearse the radio alphabet
it as you go throughout the day. For example, you can make it a game to read license plates out loud while driving around or to see how fast you can
read serial numbers and codes on equipment around the house or office. Can you write it down accurately when others read them to you? Tape one copy
of it next to a phone so you can use it when giving out your email address, snail mail address, phone number, etc.
4. Practice the five duties of a mission staff assistant
While waiting for the next exercise, you can be studying ground teams skills, but you can also reinforce mission mindset by practicing how to be a
“mission staff assistant.” Staff assistants can be any age and will rotate around mission base during meetings, events, and exercises to
fulfill age- and experience-appropriate tasks. This is an excellent way to be helpful right away with not much training. Being a staff assistant at
an exercise is also a great way to see if you might like to specialize in a certain mission base section now or later.
To qualify as an MSA trainee, memorize and practice the five duties of an MSA:
- Conduct yourself in a professional manner
- Seek guidance from a supervisor when unsure about how to handle a task or situation
- Provide support to staff members in the mission base sections, together known as “FLOPS”:
- Finance & Administration
- Help with sign-in/sign-out, updating status boards, reports, financials, and other duties as assigned
- Help reduce confusion by escorting visitors to the correct staff member:
- Take news media and casual visitors to the Public Information Officer
- Take relatives to the Public Information Officer or the Chaplain
Every meeting and event should be approached with a mission mindset. To get good at thinking ahead and serving proactively,
practice MSA duties at squadron meetings and events, and volunteer to help at Wing events, too! Help is always needed,
- Arrange tables, chairs, printers, power strips, and extension cords in the meeting rooms
- Set up and start the flight simulators
- Check the radios and charge their batteries
- Set up the electronic check-in station and make sure everyone uses it before entry
- Use a checklist to verify everyone has the paperwork required for every event (CAP ID, F160, and F161)
- Protect staff from interruptions by cheerfully collecting questions from parents and visitors at the door
- Update the announcements/upcoming events board
- Help members label their belongings
- Put away printers, power strips, extension cords, HDMI cables, etc.
- Volunteer to organize a few orientation flights for fellow cadets
- Look for other ways to be helpful or find someone who looks busy and ask how you can help
- Continue your education by gradually reading the Mission Base Reference Text (link below)
5. Urban Direction-Finding prep
If you want to be outside, UDF qualification is the quickest way. There is some overlap with basic ground team prep,
but less gear is required and there is less up-front memorization.
To join a ground team as a UDF helper, collect items on the first page of this list
Also, study these five pages
from the Ground
Team Task Guide
and email your chain of command when you’re ready for an evaluation.
It may seem irrelevant to you, so use your imagination or role-play with a sibling or colleague.
OPTIONAL: Basic Ground Team Training
Most cadets think the real fun is in ground team training, because they like to march around in the woods
looking cool. Many advanced roles also require or at least recommend ground team training as a prerequisite.
If you are unsure, read on, but know that it’s ok to wait.
Begin/continue collecting items on this
Rehearse the first 48 pages of the Ground Team
(PDF, 208pp), which covers:
- Preparing your equipment†
- Preventing and treating hot/cold-weather injuries
- Identifying natural hazards
- Preventing and treating fatigue
- Conducting field sanitation and hygiene
- Using a compass
- Exercising universal precautions
- What to do if lost
As you have time, keep reading and prepare to get signed off on even more tasks. Expanded details appear
in the Ground Team Reference Text
150pp). Study these on your own, drill with a sibling or colleague, and email your chain of command when
you’re ready for an evaluation.
You will read in the book about gear that is eventually expected for your personal 24-hour
pack and, later, a 72-hour pack. It is difficult at this stage to know exactly what you need—what
size pack? how durable? what brand flashlight?—and much is left to personal preference. In fact,
the more seasoned ground teams don’t even bother with a 24-hour pack. When in doubt, wait until you have
participated in a SAREX or two to see what others are using so you can make an informed decision.
OPTIONAL: Air Crew prep
Members 18 and older may want to serve on a search-and-rescue air crew. Familiarization and Preparation (“fam
& prep”) skills are listed at the top of the Mission Scanner
. The details for each are in the
Air Crew & Flightline Task Guide
You can begin studying this information any time, regardless of age, though we recommend completing the above steps
first or simultaneously.
RECOMMENDED: Mission Base Reference Text
There are dozens of distinct duties (see below) that you can train for in the emergency services program. For
insight into the big picture, read the Mission Base Staff Reference
(PDF, 147pp), which covers:
- Incident Command Structure (ICS)
- Facilities, resources, and staffing
- Common responsibilities
- Organizing for incidents and events
- Air operations
- Major incident management
- Multi-agency cooperation
- Practical scenarios
Distinct Mission Duty Assignments
46 distinct mission duties are listed here in alphabetical order. Looking to the future, what duties look interesting? You can pursue
more than one. If you’re not sure, read the SQTR then ask around to find out what the job is really like.
To pursue an assignment, do the prerequisites, participate in SAREXs and training, get to know people, and verbalize your interest.
- ADIS Aerial Digital Imaging System Operator
- AOBD Air Operations Branch Director
- AP Airborne Photographer
- CERT Community Emergency Response Team
- CSSCS Chaplain Support Specialist (CAP Support Rating)
- CSSDS Chaplain Support Specialist (Disaster Support Rating)
- CUL Communications Unit Leader
- DAARTO Domestic Operations Awareness and Assessment Response Tool
Operator (aerial photography)
- DAARTU Domestic Operations Awareness and Assessment Response Tool
User (aerial photography)
- FASC Finance/Admin Section Chief
- FLM Flight Line Marshaller
- FLS Flight Line Supervisor
- GBD Ground Branch Director
- GFMC Surrogate Unmanned Aerial System Green Flag Mission Coordinator
- GFMP Surrogate Unmanned Aerial System Green Flag Mission Pilot
- GFSO Surrogate Unmanned Aerial System Green Flag Sensor Operator
- GTL Ground Team Leader
- GTM3 Ground Team Member Basic
- GTM2 Ground Team Member Intermediate
- GTM1 Ground Team Member Advanced
- IC3 Incident Commander Basic Level
- IC2 Incident Commander Intermediate Level
- IC1 Incident Commander Advanced Level
- LO Liaison Officer
- LSC Logistics Section Chief
- MC Mission Chaplain
- MCCS Mission Chaplain (CAP Support Rating)
- MCDS Mission Chaplain (Disaster Support Rating)
- MFC Mountain Flying Certification
- MO Mission Observer (Air Crew)
- MP SAR/DR Mission Pilot
- MRO Mission Radio Operator
- MS Mission Scanner (Air Crew)
- MSA Mission Staff Assistant
- OSC Operations Section Chief
- PIO Public Information Officer
- PODC Point of Distribution
- PSC Planning Section Chief
- SFGC Shelter Field Guide Course
- SMC/BISC AFRCC SAR Management
- SPC National Inland SAR Planning Course
- TMP Transport Mission Pilot
- UAO Unit Alert Officer
- UDF Urban Direction-Finding Team
- WAO Wing Alert Officer
- WS Water Survival
- Skills Evaluator/Trainer (SET) for any of the above
Tips & Tricks
Succeeding in Civil Air Patrol is not hard, but you have to choose to make the effort.
- Be hungry for knowledge, experience, practice, feedback, and honest self-reflection.
- If you struggle with follow-through, seek a mentor in the squadron who will teach you a system and keep you accountable.
- Download PDFs to a Kindle or tablet, or open them in a reader app, so you can digest a page or two whenever you have a few idle minutes.
- If reading on a screen demotivates you, we can print documents at Office Depot for 2.5¢ per page. Ask a senior member for help.
- Use the free Evernote app/web site so your notes are always backed up and accessible.
- Schedule time with a friend to drill each other on skills and facts. Start by coming early to meetings or while traveling to/from events.
- Rehearse your new life-saving knowledge by practicing on your parents and siblings.
- Before buying consumables, ask around to see if anyone wants to split the cost of shareable items (e.g. duct tape,
flagging tape, waterproof matches).
- Thoroughly read this document and take notes.
- Search this page for a keyword that may bring you to an answer.
- Search the PDFs on this page for a keyword that may bring you to an answer.
- If you can’t find an answer, ask your chain of command (cc: Lt Nardoni, Lt Bagnall, and C/2Lt T. Bagnall).