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Civil Air Patrol training in event of an emergency, including flood rescues

Posted at 10:19 PM, Mar 25, 2023

DEER VALLEY — It’s been a busy few weeks for search and rescue crews, saving several people from rushing water across the state as the recent wet weather flooded creeks and roadways.

One couple, unfortunately, died near Tonto Creek a few days ago after their vehicle was spotted in floodwaters.

The Civil Air Patrol, an auxiliary to the United States Air Force, continuously trains for scenarios like this to help assist whenever they’re in need.

“When the missions actually happen, when the crises actually occur, lives count on us being able to do the job that we’re tasked to do,” said Col. Robert Pinckard, an Arizona WING commander.

On Saturday, Civil Air Patrol training included finding their crews on the ground while the aircrews searched for them. They used a new tool called Aeronet, being able to see a live feed of what air crews are seeing with the help of the ground crews.

“Without a cell signal, you’re really limited on what you can do for video feeds. And Aeronet is something that’s going to change that up for us,” Pinckard said.

Some of the Civil Air Patrol planes have FLIR, or forward-looking infrared cameras, to help find people. Pinckard said there have been a few instances where that was helpful.

Also while up in the air, another crew went to the Tonto Basin, taking a look at all the water and get a sense of the snow runoff. Those photos will be sent to the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs.

Pinckard said they train often, to make sure they stay sharp on their skills. However, they’re not always needed. Local rescues done are by the local sheriff’s departments, according to Pinckard.

“When the sheriff is feeling overtasked with his or her resources, then they can call us. They do call us for either our expertise or to back-fill their own people,” he said.