Disaster Relief Week at Pinnacle High School

Two members of Deer Valley Composite Squadron 302 had the opportunity to speak to freshman physics students at Pinnacle High School in northeast Phoenix about Civil Air Patrol’s emergency services mission on October 5. Deputy Commander for Seniors Capt. Gordon Helm and Public Affairs Officer Capt. Margot Myers were joined by Capt. Klara Olcott, 388th Composite Squadron, Glendale. The three members spoke to six groups of students, usually comprising two or three different physics classes. The invitation came from physics teacher Mike Vargas, an Aerospace Education Member of CAP.

Capt. Gordon Helm gave an overview of CAP’s history and primary missions.

Helm began with an overview of the Civil Air Patrol including the organization’s history and the three core missions, with an emphasis on aerospace education and cadet programs. Myers spoke next about the National Incident Command System in general and more specifically about the CAP response to Hurricane Harvey in Texas in September. Both Helm and Myers played a small role in the Hurricane Harvey mission, with Helm volunteering to fly as mission observer on a photo sortie and Myers working as a mission PIO in the Incident Command Post. Olcott rounded out each 50-minute class talking about her role as a member of the Arizona Wing Ground Team and how search and rescue missions are conducted.

Capt. Olcott showed how an L-Per is used to find an ELT.

Olcott showed the classes an L-Per and talked about how it is used to find Emergency Locator Transmitters that have activated. The students seemed most interested in Olcott’s 24-hour pack and what it contained. Her description of attending Hawk Mountain Ranger School in Pennsylvania (a National Cadet Special Activity) also was of interest, especially when she talked about C/CMSgt Troy Zaro of the Scottsdale Cadet Squadron, who attended Hawk Mountain for the first time this year, achieved his Ranger 2nd Class rating, and learned how to survive in the wild for up to 72 hours.

(L-R) Capts. Myers, Olcott, and Helm are surrounded by the students in the final class of the day.

The day after the CAP members spoke to the class, they carried out their disaster relief drill in the desert across from the school. According to the scenario for the exercise, “The students will be taught how to find their GPS location on a map and how to use way points in mapping. On ‘disaster day,’ students will spend the class period in the desert searching for make-believe victims. Each ‘victim’ is a painted rock with a QR code attached. Students scan the code and determine the victim’s injuries. Once victims are located, identified, and triaged, they will be given a color code to determine their status in a rescue and recovery situation. The goal is not to save the victims but to identify the location and map them in a 25-min time frame.”