4/25/2006–Westminster, MD–The area around the Carroll County Regional Airport was full of action earlier this month when within the time period of 1 hour terrorists attempted to hijack a plane, there was a resulting shooting, a fire was caused by a chemical spill, and a school bus full of young people crashed just down the road.
Fortunately, although it all appeared very real, it was a planned exercise to test the Carroll County emergency responders.
For the second year in a row, the Carroll Composite Squadron was part of the drill. Many of the cadets were in the simulated school bus accident, resulting in a number of them being transported to the local hospital for treatment. Their injuries, although fake, appeared real with the help of mélange. The cadets each had specific roles to play and acted them out faithfully, whether they were told to cry, scream, or die at the local medical facility.
The burning aircraft was a mock aircraft used for training purposes and the fire was created by propane. Firefighters helped put out the fire while the sheriff's officers were in a shoot out with two men seen running from the hijacked plane.
Capt. Kevin McHale, commander of the Carroll squadron, and 1st Lt. Mike Zabetakis, Carroll's emergency services officer, were involved in planning the drill from the early stages. They were part of the evaluation team, working with the sheriff's department.
Two Carroll pilots, 1st Lt. Rick Stuart and 2nd Lt. Angelo Alascio, were in the sky recording the events on film.
There were a number of media represented at the drill, from newspapers to television. Carroll's 2nd Lt. Thomas Dembeck was on hand to speak to the media and take many photos of the event.
The annual drills are designed to test the county's ability to handle multiple incidents, which may include fire, hazardous materials, terrorists, mass injuries, and other possible scenarios. The event is funded by various county agencies along with funds from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. The actual details of the drill are kept secret from all participants until the event occurs.
CAP, the official auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is a nonprofit organization with more than 57,000 members nationwide. CAP volunteers perform 95 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and also perform homeland security, disaster relief and counterdrug missions at the request of federal, state, and local agencies.
Last fiscal year more than 1,800 of CAP’s dedicated members helped hurricane victims; CAP aviators and aerial observers flew more than 1,000 air missions; ground teams performed 131 missions and visited 4,266 homes; and other volunteers distributed 30,000 pounds of relief supplies. CAP members also conducted 2,507 search and rescue missions, saving 73 lives. Throughout the year, CAP also took part in important homeland security missions; many CAP pilots flew target-intercept training for U.S. fighter pilots.
Members take a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to the almost 23,000 young people currently participating in the CAP Cadet Program. CAP's cadet programs provide young men and women with a safe and motivating environment in which to grow and explore opportunities in the military and aviation industries. Cadets progress through a 16-step program of leadership and aerospace education. CAP has been performing missions for America for more than 65 years.
There are approximately 1,300 members of CAP in Maryland. Last fiscal year wing members flew 34 search and rescue missions and were credited with 23 finds.
For information about the Maryland Wing of CAP, visit http://mdcap.org/ or listen to weekly episodes of "Civil Air Patrol Today" broadcast every Sunday morning on the following radio stations:
In addition, programs may be listened to at the Maryland Wing web site at http://mdcap.org/radio/ and can also be subscribed to as a podcast.
The Carroll Composite Squadron meets Tuesday evenings at the National Guard Armory on Hahn Road in Westminster. Prospective cadets, ages 12-18, and their parents are always welcome. More information can be found at www.carrollcap.org.