Friday, December 28, 2012

Photo Reconnaissance Training

2d Lt Rex Beach CAP
Asst. Aerospace Officer and Mission Scanner
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188, CA Wing

Capt Frank Rieble, 2d Lt Kevin Fall. Photo by 2d Lt Rex Beach
The Veterans Day Holiday gave us the chance to do some training. Since photo reconnaissance/damage assessment seems to be a growing part of the CAP mission these days we decided the clear conditions and light winds that day would provide us with a great opportunity to brush up on our aircrew and photo re-con skills. The crew consisting of Capt Frank Riebli (pilot), 2d Lt. Kevin Fall (mission observer\photographer), and 2d Lt. Rex Beach (mission scanner\photographer) met at the Business Jet Center at the Oakland Airport to plan the mission.

Our plan was to fly over the Golden Gate Bridge, south down the Pacific coast past Half Moon Bay, east to find the town of Bonny Doon, on to the Livermore Airport for fuel, then return to the Oakland Airport. This route gave us interesting points to photograph. It also required the planning of many elevation changes due to air restrictions and topography along the route. Kevin brought along his Cannon EOS 7D camera which provided the crew with an excellent tool to document the reconnaissance.

With our plans in hand and CAP plane 83E checked out, we took off at about 11:30 in the morning. Climbing up over the Bay gave us a good look of downtown San Francisco, the bay, and the Golden Gate Bridge. 
Golden Gate Bridge. Photo by 2nd Lt Kevin Fall

We stayed close to the shore line as we headed south noting and photographing landmarks, and structures that might be susceptible to tsunami activity. Structures were observed on the high cliffs around Pacifica. Further south and below similar cliffs we noted beaches, some of which were accessible and others which were difficult for people to reach. The coastal terrain begins to flatten out as you reach the area just north of Half Moon Bay. Many structures there certainly could be impacted by a large tsunami.

Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Photo by 2d Lt Rex Beach
Proceeding down the coast we identified Pigeon Point Light House. We circled the lighthouse and photographed it from various aspects.  As we continued south we noted Año Nuevo State Reserve which set us up for a turn to the east to find the town of Bonny Doon. One of our mission objectives was to find and photograph the Bonny Doon Village Airport east of the town.

This is a private airport that is little used with a single runway. We flew along the ridge lines progressing east until we located the airport. Then circling the airport we took photographs of the approach and departure ends of the runway.

Boony Doon Village Airport. Photo by 2nd Lt Kevin Fall
Having completed this task we flew on to Livermore as we avoided air traffic around San Jose and Reid-Hillview airports. Landing at the Livermore Airport gave us the chance to top off our tanks with fuel for our return flight back to Oakland at around 2:30.

The training flight gave us all the opportunity to sharpen our mission planning, photo re-con and general aircrew skills in preparation for a real world mission.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Major Paul Groff Retires

By Lt Col CAP Juan Tinnirello, PIO Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188

On November 13, 2012 at the “All Hands” Squadron 188 meeting, Group 2 commander Major Steve Renwick and other members of Group 2, met to honor Major Paul Groff for his dedication and service to Civil Air Patrol.  Maj. Renwick presented Paul with commendations from National, Wing and Group 2 for his excellent and long service to CAP.   Maj. Paul Groff retires from CAP after 33 years of service and leaves behind a legacy of dedicated work and accomplishments in the many positions he held during his tenure.

Major Paul Groff
In 1979 Major Groff's son Joe was a cadet in Sq. 18 at the Oakland International Airport. Major Groff decided to join his son's squadron and so began his 3 decades of faithful service. He believes his son's participation in CAP was very instrumental in Joe choosing a career in aviation and who is now a Captain with Virgin American Airlines.

Major Groff selected the Aerospace program as his specialty track and he earned the master rating. In 1983 he joined the CAWG staff located at Coast Guard Island in Alameda, CA. He also became a member of the Aviation Section and as an instrument rated commercial pilot one of his duties was to study and improve the Mission Observer program.

His efforts led to the Scanner Rating as a pre-requisite to the Mission Observer rating. This significant improvement to how CAP aircrews conduct searches provided him the opportunity to travel through out the state explaining the new program to CAP squadrons.  Major Groff not only spoke to CAP squadrons, he also shared his methods with law enforcement agencies that had heard about the new program and wanted him to share his methods with their staff.

In the fall of 1987 Major Groff was requested to form a senior search and rescue squadron at the Oakland Airport. The new squadron was established in January 1988 (1/88). Thus was named Squadron 188 and with Amelia Earhart as its patron. Several of the senior members of Sq. 18 switched to Sq.188, so the squadron was up and running in a very short time. This writer joined the squadron in January 1990 and was assigned the job of PAO by Commander Groff.

During his tenure as Squadron Commander he trained the entire squadron membership in the various classes they needed to complete to obtain their ratings. These classes included the Emergency Services courses required to participate in the search and rescue exercises,  as well as Aerospace Education, one of his preferred subjects.

In 1997 Paul became the Group 2 Commander applying and expanding his experiences and knowledge of CAP. After serving four years as Group 2 CC, the new Group 2 CC, Lt. Col. Parris, asked Paul to become the Safety Officer. He also rejoined Sq. 188 as the Aerospace Education Officer and helped many members to obtain their Yeager Award.

In 2008 he was appointed Director of Safety for CAWG. This was a time when the National Safety program was expanded and Incident Reporting became a part of CAP standard procedure. CAWG Safety received an Excellent rating during the inspection of January 2012.

Major Steve Renwick remarking on Major Groff remarkable CAP career. Photo Lt Col Juan Tinnirello
 Maj. Paul Groff retired officially in February 2012 and will be missed by many in CAWG, and especially by members like me in Sq. 188. Farewell my friend!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Water Survival Training

Lt Louie Rivas, CAP
Operations Officer and Mission Pilot
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

Crews prepping for their swim. Photo Capt Noel Luneau 
Several CAP members from Squadron 188 and Group 2 were given the opportunity to participate in water survival training provided by the United States Coast Guard. 1st Lt Al Chavez of Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188 arranged the fun and very important training session with the assistance of the United States Coast Guard. The Coast Guard provided the training at their training facility on Coast Guard Island in Alameda California.

Aircrew swimming while AST swimmer watches.
Photo Capt Noel Luneau 
The water training exercise was based on the scenario of CAP aircrew members floating in their flight suits while wearing a survival harness equipped with a personal flotation device (PFD). The PFD is not inflated at the beginning of the exercise but successful completion of it requires the aircrew member to swim 75 yards while wearing the cumbersome equipment.

Capt Heinrich Lutz.
Photo Capt Noel Luneau 
This part of the exercise was an eye opening experience to many of the participants. A water logged flight suit and shoes can easily add an extra 30 lbs. of weight to the suit and produce a significant amount of drag while swimming and treading water. Typical swimming techniques such as the breaststroke are not possible so combinations of the back and sidestroke were employed.

The PFD is inflated by the aircrew member after reaching 75 yards, but unlike a PFD that automatically inflates with the pull of a cord; these PFDs must be inflated by breathing into an air tube while treading water.

Some members were able to successfully inflate the PFDs by themselves, while others found it difficult to blow into the tube and overcome the downward pull of their water logged suit and shoes. They were assisted by fellow crewmembers floating nearby. Coast Guard safety swimmers monitored the struggling crewmembers, shouted guidance, and words of encouragement to all.

AST swimmer instructing aircrew. Photo Noel Luneau 
The course instructors then tossed an inverted 6-man raft into the pool. The challenge for the floating crewmembers was to invert the raft, and then climb aboard.

The rafts are designed for conditions such as this and were easily overturned. The real challenge presented itself when it was time to climb aboard.

2nd Lt Mike Cao.
Photo Capt Noel Luneau 

The combination of the water logged suits and inflated bladders of the PFD made it difficult to maneuver and board the raft. The difficulty was pulling oneself onto the small boarding platform of the raft.

One crew member in the water simulated that he was in distress so the members in the raft paddled to him and lifted the struggling airman on board.

In the end, all CAP aircrew members passed the water training exercise and many were overheard to say that they hadn't so much fun swimming with their clothes on.

USCG AST swimmers with CAP aircrews. Photo Noel Luneau 
The California Wing of CAP would like to thank the Commanding Officer of the USCG Air station San Francisco, AST1 Gabe Pulliam, AST3 Max Kaczmarek and AST3 Ernie Child for this unique and exciting opportunity to participate in the Water Survival Training Course.

Pictures of the activity are located here.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Important notes from the Drs. Corner

Anuruddh Kumar Misra, MD, Capt CAP
FACP Board Certified, Internal Medicine
Health Services Medical Officer
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188

Internal Medicine care for Civil Air Patrol, Squadron 188

The duties of the Health Services and Medical Officer to a Search and Rescue squadron such as ours are unique in that there are several specific needs that the squadron at large in broad strokes requires and then there are certain needs specific for pilots.  I will review the topics as I covered for our squadron below:

1.     Dehydration
This a major health hazard for pilots for the primary reason that if a pilot is what is termed “hypovolemic”, they have a significantly increased chance for syncope and other associated symptoms related to inadequate flow to the brain (i.e. visual disturbances, headache, vertigo etcetera).

In order to better rule out prior to the flying, checking vital signs prior to flight with a focus on pulse rate (beats per minute) is useful.  The normal pulse rate is 60-100 beats per minute; this has some degree of variation from person to person.  Hence it is a good idea for pilots to know what a normal pulse rate is for them individually and what a normal range of variance of this value is as well for them as well.

The practical consideration is that if a pilot is hypovolemic and needs to hydrate that this may complicate the flight plans.  The reason for this is obvious -- total expected air time must be taken into consideration because of the need to urinate/expected lead time post hydration must be calibrated accordingly to the planned flight mission.  The best route is oral rehydration for physiological reasons as well as for ease as opposed to parenteral or IV hydration.

It is recommended that pilots and all air crew void their bladders prior to flight regardless the expected duration of flight.

If a pilot is evidenced to be relatively dehydrated (pulse rate in the mid to high 90’s) or outright dehydrated (pulse rate >100) it is advisable that the pilot first not fly and to start rehydration immediately.  The pilot should reassess their pulse rate at a later time if they are more euvolemic (at normal level of hydration) prior to considering flying again.

In summary, dehydrated pilots are at an increased risk for unsafe flights with complications ranging from suboptimal mental sharpness which can result in poor flight control to potentially fatal outcomes.  Checking the vital signs with a focus on pulse rate is an easy first step towards that evaluation and determination.

2.     Medical fitness for flight clearance
Much like DOT (Department of Transport) physicals for the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles), a medical determination related to medial safety prior to being allowed to fly is an absolute requirement for all pilots.  There a myriad of medical problems that range from relatively benign to severe that can significantly complicate a pilot’s ability to safely operate aircraft.

Some of these conditions are (and are not limited to): Diabetes, Hypertension, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Seizure disorder and Schizophrenia.  It is essential that all pilot’s have Primary Care Physicians (Internal Medicine, or Family Medicine is best for such situations) who can manage these conditions if present (and others like them) which the Flight Physician can then review prior to issuing flight safety clearance.  It is on the basis of this which will enable her/him to be able to certify that the said pilot is safe to fly by FAA standards.

Documentation of satisfactory control of these medical conditions by the Primary Care Physician is solely the responsibility of the pilot at the time of the visit with the Flight Physician (i.e. providing lab documentation of adequate control of Diabetes or a AHI reading and report from the CPAP machine by the Sleep Medicine Physician to demonstrate the is no risk of drowsiness or sleep attacks while in flight).

3.     OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea)
This falls under No. 2, however I take the extra liberties to spell this one our as it is much more prevalent than most are aware of.

OSA was featured in a Reader’s Digest Article recently as one of the “Top 10 diagnoses missed most by Physicians today”.  The reasons for this are simple and have far reaching implications.  Firstly for most patients who have it, they are not acutely aware they have it mainly because they are not knowledgeable about what the symptoms are and how to tie them together to call their Primary Care Physicians attention to it.  Additionally, it generally is a condition which is insidious in onset.  Next just as much, Primary Care Physicians do not as routinely look for or screen for it.  Unlike checking vital signs on visits to the MD wherein in blood pressure (or labs) are checked that may pick up either Hypertension or Diabetes inadvertently or because it is specifically being looked for, without the extra effort to screen for OSA, it is often missed.

One of the most common ways OSA is brought to the forefront of attention of each the patient and that of the Primary Care Physician is that the spouse of the affected individual will report that the concerned individual seems to “stop breathing”, or “fights to breath” or something on these lines which indicates that there is some sort of difficulty breathing when the patient is sleeping.  In my personal experience in my years of practice as an Internist, such a history often is “Exhibit A” as evidence of there being OSA and such an individual has OSA until proven otherwise in my books in my professional medical opinion.

OSA is a major and under reported reason motor vehicle accidents occur and for this reason OSA is just as much a risk factor for pilots crashing.

Common symptoms patients will self report when/if they do will often be: falling asleep when they should otherwise not be falling asleep, accidents secondary to having been sleepy while driving, loud snoring, waking up feeling poorly rested, waking up with gasping, choking or breathing interruptions and even cataplexy.

Common risk factors for OSA are increased abdominal girth (elevated BMI of 35 or greater), increased neck circumference >17 inches for males or >16 inches for females, age > 50, and micrognathia (small jaw).

To screen for OSA, one would use the Epworth Sleepiness Scale which is easily available tool on line.

Occupational medical centers now are mandated to use a “Sleep Evaluation Work Sheet” for DOT physicals as such a medical clearance for drivers concerns the safety of the public as would medical clearance for pilots.

4.     Blood Borne Pathogens
This is an essential topic for our squadron to be knowledgeable regarding because of the fact that our squadron is a search and rescue squadron and as a result can and often will potentially be exposed to blood.  The blood borne pathogens that can be transmitted are HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C.  Of these, there is a vaccination available only against Hepatitis B which is a series of three shots over a time period of six months.  Vaccination against Hepatitis B is an absolute requirement for first responders of all levels, CAP, USAF or otherwise.

Of the three possible blood borne pathogens that we know today, it is Hepatitis C that is the most likely to transmit as it requires the least number of viral particles in order to infect a possible victim.  Early diagnosis is essential once there is even the remote most possibility of Hepatitis C being contracted.  The potentially infected person must inform their Primary Care Physician as soon as possible to start the battery of blood tests needed to screen for it as it is a potentially fatal condition if contracted and diagnosed too late.  However with early diagnosis and treatment, it is completely curable.  I worked with one of the leading experts the world over today on Hepatitis C during my post-doctoral training period when in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Hepatitis C is an emerging epidemic and considerably more prevalent than we as a medical community had prior thought was the case, and Dr. Shehab has publish extensively about this.  For the motivated reader and researcher, the numerous publications on Hepatitis C by Dr. Thomas Shehab are available on line at Pub Med or other various search engines such as Google Scholar.

If HIV is suspected to have been transmitted it is crucially important to have this brought to the attention of the individuals Primary Care Physician as starting PEP (Post Exposure Prophylaxis) is pivotal as PEP is time sensitive.  If not started in the correct window period which is measured in hours, the possibility of contracting HIV raises proportionately.

For patients who are immunized against Hepatitis B, it is advisable to check Hepatitis B Antibody titer levels every 5-10 years dependent upon the age and baseline health of the patient as well as the general immune system status.  Booster shots and/or immunization may be indicated and it is crucial to have a sufficient titer level to ensure one is sufficiently protected against potentially contracting Hepatitis B.

Instruction of this topic at the squadron was supplemented with a power point presentation.

5.     First Aid
In following along with the need to protect the First Responder from contracting blood borne pathogens, it is extremely important to know how to glove and protect the First Responder given First Aid from possibly being a victim.

In our First Aid class, I give explicit detail instruction about how to ensure all contact precautions are followed in advance of administrating First Aid.  The same precautions are taught in advance of providing CPR.

Further in First Aid, the class is instructed in the fundamentals of wound care and dressing, splinting wounds, and achieving hemostasis in bleeding patients.  Students are instructed in depth about all the basic aspects of First Aid with first hand teaching by the MD’s, RN’s and Paramedics of the squadron.

6.     CPR/AED
One of the most important aspects of being a First Responder is the ability to confidently deliver CPR and to be able to an AED if needed.

In this class, I first instruct how to do a primary survey in advance of delivering CPR care.  This training is pivotal as the effectiveness of CPR is time sensitive.  Sadly, often times when the point has been arrived at that CPR is needed, as one of the most important professors from my post-doctoral training said it best; “The worst thing that can happen to the person has already happened – just do your best once that point has been arrived at.”

It is important that the CPR provider understand the approach and technique as well as sound command of the algorithm.  This is taught and tested in depth and as with the First Aid class there is practical demonstration as part of the proficiency which must be demonstrated.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Open House at Livermore Airport

2nd Lt Adam Kelly CAP
Recruiting Officer
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

SQ 18 Display Booth
On October 6 Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Squadron 188, along with Squadron 18, participated in the Livermore Airport Annual open house.  Squadron 18's Cadets honored the crowd with an excellent Presentation of the Colors during the National Anthem.  Both Squadron 188 and 18 set up a recruiting booth to help drive interest in the Civil Air Patrol.  CAP Capt Yudis Coreas of Squadron 10 flew in their Cessna 182 G1000 equipped search aircraft for display.  Visitors were able to sit in the cockpit and were enthralled by the G 1000 displays and capability of the CAP aircraft; meanwhile the children loved its video game like appearance.

Spartan Executive
The open house included static displays of antique aircraft and warbirds. There were aerobatic performances by aerobatic pilots Jacquie Warda, Rich Perkins, Vicky Benzing, and Dr. D’s Old-Time Aerobatics wooed the crowd.  It was a wonderful event and Squadron 188 thanks Squadrons 10, 18, the City of Livermore and the airport staff for such a great event.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sq 188 Does it again!

1st Lt Louie Rivas, CAP
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

The members of Squadron 188 recently learned of their Three-peat as Group 2 Top Senior Squadron of the Year. This honor is awarded to the squadron that best demonstrates their commitment to, and efforts in, fulfilling the three primary CAP missions of Aerospace Education, Cadet Programs, and Emergency Services.

In 2011 Squadron 188 either assisted with the planning, or represented the squadron, in over half a dozen events in support of the Aerospace Education mission. The events included local airshows, outreach to surrounding communities, and securing internships at the Port of Oakland for local youths.

As a senior squadron, Sq188 doesn't offer a cadet program, but the members do support the cadet programs of other squadrons. For the second year in a row a member of the squadron officiated the Cadet Bowl at Vandenburg AFB. Squadron members provided orientation rides to the Group 2 cadets in CAP aircraft, acted as escort officers for glider rides at the Byron Airport and accompanied cadets from Sq 18 on a USAF C-5 flight simulator ride at Travis AFB. 

The emergency services side of the squadron was busy in 2011. Members continue to train and upgrade their training in the various ES ratings. The squadron saw an increase in the number of qualified mission pilots, scanners, and radio operators to name a few. The squadron also hosted several search and rescue exercisies (SAREX) including one with observers from the USAF evaluating CAP performance.

The good news didn't stop there. Several members of the squadron earned awards for their contributions to the Community, CAP and Squadron 188. Members who earned awards include

Aerospace Education Officer of the Year - 1st Lt Pat Bitz was awarded the Aerospace Education Officer of the Year award for his tireless efforts in promoting aerospace education at local schools, the general public and to the members of Sq 188. His numerous accomplishments include promoting CAP at local airshows, writing the 100 questions for the CAP Aerospace Bowl held at Vandenberg Air Force Base, and organizing the Wreaths Across America campaign for Sq 118. Hats off to 1st Lt Bitz!

Incident Staff Member of the Year - Capt Allen is a highly decorated and distinguished member of Squadron 188. Hi accomplishments include being awarded Lifesaver with silver star award, selected as squadron member of the year three times, Leadership Ribbons, and participated in over 150 missions.

In 2011 Capt Allen participated in 20 missions, including an exercise with National Guard personnel. The goal of the exercise was to evaluate live video streaming capabilities in the event of tsunami striking the west coast. On another exercise,  Air Force observers evaluating the emergency services performance of the Incident Command Staff commented that the entire volunteer team could be mistaken for full time paid emergency services staff. Congratulations once again Capt Allen!

Safety Officer of the Year -  In 2011 Capt Frank Riebli volunteered to be safety officer for Sq 188. That year Capt Riebli researched and presented various safety aviation and non-aviation related topics to the CAP members. He also invited several guests to speak to the squadron on topics such as Human Factors\Errors in Systems, Winter Weather Patterns, and a stunt pilot who shared her experiences of surviving an airplane crash after a catastrophic engine failure.

Capt Riebli received high praise from an evaluator during a Squadron Unit Inspection for his efforts promoting safety to the squadron and all who enter the squadron headquarters.  His enthusiasm and commitment to safety spills over into the audience and his monthly presentations are a squadron favorite. Way to go Capt Riebli!  

The Logbook - Balsem Public Affairs Exceptional Achievement Award for Newsletter of the Year.  Named in honor of the Air Force major considered by CAP historians to be the first Public Affairs officer to serve CAP at the national level in the '50s. Newsletters are judged on content, creativity, technical excellence, quality and results. This is the squadrons first Balsem Award. Thanks to all the members who contribute articles, edited, and otherwise helped to make the Logbook the number one Newsletter of the Year!

Here's a big salute to all the men and women who make Squadron 188 the Group 2 Top Senior Squadron of the Year!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Change of Command

1st Lt Louie Rivas 
Assistant Public Affairs Officer and Mission Pilot
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

L-R: Capt Luneau, Capt Dunham, Major Renwick, Capt Ironfield
The August All Hands Meeting was one filled with tradition, promotions, and awards of the best kind. There was a Change of Command at Squadron 188 this past week. This is a CAP tradition that occurs every three years and it represents a formal transfer of authority and responsibility for a squadron from one commanding officer to another. Capt Jeff Ironfield passed the colors to his deputy commander Capt Noel Luneau signifying this change of command.

The Passing of the Colors
During Capt Ironfield's tenure the squadron saw an increase in its membership, the number of Emergency Services ratings held by its members, and the number of SAREXs hosted by SQ 188. All of these accomplishments helped SQ 188 earn the California Wing 2011 Squadron of the Year award.

Capt Luneau presenting collage to Capt Ironfield
Capt Luneau began his role as SQ 188 commander by thanking Capt Ironfield for his contribution to the squadron and presenting him with a collage of photos of some of the CAP activities Capt Ironfield participated in. Capt Ironfield’s next duty assignment will be that of California Wing Group 2 Deputy Commander and all the members of Squadron 188 wish him the best of luck in his new role.

Capt Noel Luneau assumes his role as new Squadron 188 commander with a squadron that’s poised to repeat many of the same successes it had in 2011. His first order of business was announcing his appointment of Capt Michael Allen as the new Deputy Commander, a role previously held by Capt Luneau.

Capt Luneau addressing the audience
Capt Luneau and Capt Allen played key roles in the squadron’s successes and they bring years of CAP experience. The members of SQ 188 look forward to their tenure as the new leaders of the squadron.

In addition to the Change in Command ceremonies, several members received promotions or awards for their outstanding service and accomplishments. 

Capt Noel Luneau: Awarded the CAP Senior Pilot Rating. This rating is presented to members who have been an active CAP pilot for a minimum of 3 years and logged 1000 hours of pilot in command time.

1st Lt David Dunham: Promoted to Capt & Awarded the Grover Loening Award. This award is presented to senior members who successfully complete the third level of the professional development program.

Maj Renwick presenting Capt Dunham the Loening Award

Dunham family places Capt bars

1st Lt Michael Allen: Promoted to Captain.
Capt Allen getting his Captains bars

Major Renwick announcing Capt Allens Lifesaving Award
A very special award was presented this evening as well. Capt Michael Allen received word from Group 2 Commander Major Steve Renwick that he would soon be receiving the Certificate of Recognition for Lifesaving. Capt Allen received the award for saving the life of a cadet choking during dinner.  His quick thinking and action saved a young life and a family from a tragic outcome. You can find Capt Allen’s account of this event on the July 6, 2012 post of The Logbook. Kudos Capt Allen!

The squadron would like to thank The English Rose of San Carlos for the food they donated to the squadron for the evening’s ceremonies.  The cookies and sandwiches were a big hit with crowd and quickly disappeared.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Squadron 188 Safety

Capt Noel Luneau
Deputy Commander and Mission Pilot
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

Our Safety Officer Capt Frank Riebli, created three excellent Safety Posters for this years Wing Operational Exercise (WOX) and wanted to share them with fellow Civil Air Patrol members.

Monday, July 16, 2012

SQ188 Happenings

Capt Noel Luneau
Deputy Commander and Mission Pilot
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

An update on Squadron 188

Mission Pilot School – South – 13-15 Jul
Capt Noel Luneau served as a Mission Safety Officer at the Mission Pilot School – South held in Riverside

Palo Alto SAREX – 14-15 Jul
The following members of Squadron 188 participated in the Palo Alto Cadet SAREX.

ES Rating
Capt Frank Riebli
Mission Pilot
Lt Luis Rivas
Mission Pilot
2d Lt Jordan Hayes
Communication Unit Leader – Trainee
SM Kenton Hoover
Urban Direction Finder - Trainee

Form 5’s - Week of 9 July
Congratulations to Pilots Capt Don Eichelberger and Lt Luis Rivas for passing their annual check rides.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A Fourth of July to Remember!

Kate Allen, 1st Lt, CAP
UDF Standard
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

If you had asked me on July 3 what I'd be doing for Independence Day this year, I'd have told you cheerfully that my husband, daughter, and I were heading a couple of hours north to Santa Rosa for a barbecue. 

Anyone who knows the Allen family, however, would have guessed I was speaking too soon--and they'd be right.

We did end up in Santa Rosa for a barbecue; we also located and deactivated a live EPIRB (Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) on the way.

The 121.5 radio signal was first heard the morning of July 3 by a Civil Air Patrol (CAP) member, who e-mailed me and my husband, CAP 1 Lt Mike Allen, to see what the next step would be to get a search going.  My hubby has developed quite a reputation around California Wing for being a go-to guy when it comes to ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) missions and Urban Direction Finding (UDFing).  By the morning of July 4, the signal had been pinned down to a trash heap at Redwood Empire Disposal in Santa Rosa, but getting at it had proved impossible to the CAP UDF teams who had gone out ahead of us.  So, instead of our reds, whites, and blues, we donned our UDF uniform of blue shirt, gray pants, and reflective orange safety vest, then headed out the door and logged into the Air Force search mission as a UDF team (thank goodness for our friend hosting the barbecue--when we arrived in Santa Rosa she whisked away our daughter, Future Cadet Allen, so we could hunt the beacon!). 

Once Mike had informed Redwood Empire Disposal's supervisor of our presence and purpose and acquired permission to search the grounds, we put on clear nitrile gloves from Mike's trauma kit and pulled out our secret weapon: an L-Per (think: UDF helper!) with Yagi antenna array.  This device is designed to be able not only to tell us whether a bleeping EPIRB is to our left or right, but whether it's above or below us--truly a superior UDF tool.  I unfolded the considerable metal contraption carefully, not having used it in well over a year, and when Mike asked to carry it first, I gave it to him straight: "Hey, you've had about a zillion and a half UDF finds--my turn to play!"  He held up his hands in spousal surrender, and away we went to shoot bearings for our first triangulation.  I got the hang of the L-Per again within minutes, asking Mike questions to refresh my memory as we went along.

We found the trash heap easily enough: we started with our 121.5 signal and adjusted the sensitivity dial from maximum to minimum, and then went off frequency to 121.6 (the idea is, if you can hear the beacon bleeding into other frequencies, you're getting pretty close!).  We readjusted the sensitivity dial to maximum and followed it till we could reduce sensitivity to minimum again and still hear the signal.  A few bearings shot all around our heap of choice demonstrated that the EPIRB was somewhere within it, rather than elsewhere in the yard.

At 15 feet high and easily 50 feet in diameter, this smelly pile of junk seemed mountainous.  By the time we'd pinned down which heap the signal was coming from, we looked around and realized that the guys who had been working before were nowhere in sight.  We solicited some help from within the building and in a few minutes returned with an employee who was willing to work the trash heap with a bulldozer during his lunch break.  He warned us to stay clear of his path and then moved the machine effortlessly into the pile, scooping up a load and shaking it gently--as gently as bulldozers can shake anything--into a more manageable mound in front of us.  I checked the pile and confirmed that the EPIRB was still in the larger heap.  The employee scooped the small pile away and backed up to collect another one.  This time Mike checked.  Still in the larger pile.  He asked me to shoot some bearings just to be sure; the signal was still strong and still coming distinctly from the larger pile.  We were able to go further off frequency again, this time to 121.775, and as the employee pulled out more and more trash from the heap, we were able to get an increasingly clear signal. 

After what must have been nearly a dozen scoops, we could hear the low static of data bursts from the 406MHz satellite signal once a minute, another sign that we were virtually on top of it--but we hadn't spotted it yet.  Mike had the Yagi in hand as the signal moved in the direction of the next scoop.  The signal went up--and then crashed down.  It was in front of our feet!  By this time we had gained an audience of several employees, and they helped us pull away cardboard, plastic, and metal as we sought a glimmer of the life-saving device.

I saw it first.  It looked like the end of a traffic cone--orange with a bit of reflective tape around the top.  I pointed with an excited screech and Mike pulled it out from the pile.  I let loose an enthusiastic whoop, grinning as he held it up.  It was a buoy, an EPIRB designed for use on a boat.  The employees all looked at us, probably wondering whether all the fuss had been worth it.  After assuming the honor of disarming it, I explained that by finding and deactivating it, we were clearing the radio waves for any authentic distress signals that might otherwise be masked by the non-distress signal.

The employees who helped out offered to take a picture of us after it was all said and done.

Afterward we headed back to our car with EPIRB in hand, deposited the EPIRB into a bag marked for hazardous materials (also from Mike's trauma kit), and peeled off our gloves to dispose of them.  Then we went on our merry way to our friend's Independence Day barbecue, a successful CAP UDF mission under our belts.  All in a day's work for this CAP family!

1 Lt's Mike and Kate Allen, CAP - 4-Jul-2012 
Image courtesy of CAP 1 Lt Kate Allen

Friday, July 6, 2012

Saving a Life

Michael Allen, 1st Lt, CAP
Emergency Services Officer and Incident Commander
Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188
California Wing

At the Wing Operational Exercise (WOX), some of the participants decided to have dinner together after the base closed for the night on Saturday. Given how stressful the day's events were, complete with a light fixture sparking and smoking (which forced a brief CAP staff evacuation and response from the Fire Department to give the all-clear), we felt we earned a nice dinner where we could all chat with each other away from a mission base. Our dinner companions included Sq. 188's Noel Luneau, me, the Group 2 Commander, Cal Wing Director of Operations, and many others. A Ground Team joined us at an adjacent booth. It was good to see 15 or so CAP members from bases state-wide, unwinding after a very eventful day.

From where I was I happen to have a clear line of sight to one of our Cadets seated about 15 feet away at the Ground Team's table. About 30 minutes into dinner as we enjoyed beverages and bread, I spotted that Cadet previously mentioned clutching her throat in the classic choking distress manner. It took about 5 seconds to realize that she wasn't joking around with members at her table. As her skin tone changed to a very red hue, I dashed from our table to the Ground Team's booth. After asking her if she's choking all she could muster is a slight nod to answer my question. I pulled her from her booth to stand her up and she was semi-limp. It's safe to assume she had been choking for 15 or more seconds at that point.

I administered 3 quick thrusts in a semi-standing Heimlich maneuver (Abdominal Thrust) position and heard her airway clear. For a moment I believe I actually heard the piece of ice hit the floor and bounce away. She began coughing and breathing again. After assisting her back to her seat and taking a knee next to her in an attempt to keep her calm and to verify we got the entire obstruction clear, I couldn't help but notice a stunned non-CAP couple sitting a few feet away that had just seen everything that happened, in total stunned silence. The Cadet kept her composure as she recovered, and after I confirmed with her that she was ok, let her know she might feel discomfort after the administration of those thrusts to which she replied with a semi-smile and chuckle, "Oh, I'm going to bruise!" I reassured her that she was fine but to let myself or another Senior Member know if she needed anything or felt anything unusual. There's always the potential for injury when you use that maneuver, so it's good to monitor the person for a while if possible. From there it was back to the "base staff" table, where about 3 out of 10 had any idea about what had just happened in the past 2 minutes!

I have to say I was trembling after I sat back down! My hands didn't stop shaking for at least 10 minutes. As news of what had just taken place spread around the table, it got funnier and funnier as I heard, "Wait, WHAT just happened? Are you serious???" The whole incident was that quiet, that quick. I also remember how stunned that Cadet's table was; they felt horrible that no one had seen that she was in distress. Until I pulled her from the booth they happened to be looking to the center of the booth, not looking directly at that Cadet. It was just bad timing, they had no fault, no one did! They wondered how I had seen it from 15 feet away at another table when they were within an arm's reach and didn't notice anything. Maybe I look for trouble or things that are out of the ordinary? I'm leaning toward, "We just got lucky this time."

And I do mean "we". This was a Cadet, a member of our CAP family. We saved one of our own this time but last year it was a fellow Incident Commander and a Cadet that saved a non-CAP member by administering effective CPR. This extremely important training becomes second nature, it kicks in before you know it. You react to the situation, do your job, and then you'll probably feel the effects of that extremely intense event for a day or more. What's strange is that you're completely on auto-pilot at the time. I hardly remember pulling her from the booth, the thrusts, only the coughing and a clicking sound that I thought was ice hitting the ground.

When you have a chance to earn your CPR card, please, do it. We have training coming up at the unit, I believe in July. When we post the date please be ready and willing to serve the community by training on this array of life-saving techniques. My 8 hours of CPR classes and time/few bucks to renew may have just given someone 80 years back or more... A great return on investment, don't you think?

I bet she thinks so, and her parents that don't have to bury their child, too.

Please take the CPR training, as a personal favor I'm asking all of you to jump in the pool and do this.

Thank you all for your service.

PS- The Cadet had the class to come over before dinner broke just to thank me again. The unit she belongs to has a "good egg"! We can teach customs and courtesies, but it takes character at the core to show class. If only all the young men and women today had that trait, the world would be a better place! I look forward to working with this cadet and the rest of her peers and Senior squadron members in the future

Sunday, July 1, 2012

California Wing Participates in the Pacific Region “Seismic Survey II” Exercise.

By LT. Col. Juan Tinnirello and Maj. Dana Kirsch, CAP

On 24 June 2012 CAWG landed another successful Wing Operations Exercise.  The four-day WOX called “Seismic Survey II” was predicated on an increase in seismic activity around the Pacific Rim, and heretofore undetected new volcanic movement.

The U.S. Air Force Observer Team review the aircraft inspection form.
Photo Lt. Col. Juan Tinnirello
This was not an Air Force evaluated mission (SAR EVAL) for California Wing, but it was for the other two states participating: Washington and Oregon.  On Sunday, the final day of the exercise Nevada Wing joined in by lending some communications support to the CAWG aircraft flying over the eastern Sierras.  This is the second time that a Pacific Region exercise of this magnitude has been conducted; the first one took place back in July 2006.  The scale tested the operational readiness of our members and our resources.  There were two bases in California.  The main command post was located at the Oakland International Airport in the Amelia Earhart Senior Squadron 188.  The sub base was located at the Whitman Airport in southern California.

All the particpants line up to be counted as instructed 
during the morning briefing in order to insure everyone 
was out of the building.
Photo Lt Col Juan Tinnirello

On Saturday morning, the first operational general briefing included evacuation instructions in the event of a “simulated earthquake, volcano or tsunami”. Not even three hours later, a “NO PLAY” emergency occurred.   A fluorescent light fixture ballast malfunctioned and started to produce smoke.  The command post was evacuated; the fire department was called, and everyone assembled across the street in the parking lot which had been briefed as the designated muster location. As instructed in the briefing earlier, everybody “fell in” trying to form straight lines in order to be counted.  Cross-referencing the paper lists with an iPad that had the morning’s sign-in sheet it was determined that that everyone was safely out of the building.

Double checking the head count against the list of 
participants to make sure no one was missing.
Photo Lt Col Juan Tinnirello
In addition to using iPads and other mobile technology, the communication team had prepositioned a HF equipped Ford Expedition in the muster parking lot. When the order to evacuate came, they each grabbed a portable radio a clipboard with the paper comm. log, and headed outside to fire up the backup plan. In fact, the switch over was so seamless that crews still in the air did not know about the situation on the ground until they returned to base and heard all the stories.

If that wasn’t enough excitement for one event, 30 minutes after the Fire Department had issued the ALL CLEAR, the local Sheriff was summoned. One of the cadets had discovered a small collection of stolen credit cards and ID stuffed into a bush in front of the building. The Sheriff took his statement and returned the property to its owners.

Towards the end of the afternoon on Sunday, communication contact was established with Nevada Wing, and a test message was sent: What is the middle name of the pilot? The response came almost 10 minutes later “Tolga flys a Cirrus”. Clearly we still have a lot of work to do!  At the conclusion of the exercise, the two bases had launched a total of 45 sorties and logged 104 flight hours.

The aircrews delivered photos of 39 USGS targets of seismic interest. We are told that the USGS will compile these images in a database for future study and research. The ground team spent the night on Mount Lassen providing a communications relay to several aircraft operating in the area around Redding.

Over the years, we have practiced a number of Exercises together, and we picked up a few tips and tricks along the way which helped this mission to run smoothly.  We watched out for each other, used good communications practices in the base, in the air and on the road, and we were courteous to each other and to our customer.

It was an excellent training opportunity and one we hope to repeat next year.The Air Force Observation Team let the staff at the Oakland base know that the planning and execution of the whole mission was outstanding.

Members of the Mission Staff in a Planning Meeting are 
reviewing the events of the day and to approve the Plan for tomorrow.
Photo by Lt. Col. Juan Tinnirello

One of the ground teams checking their equipment before 
lunching for an overnight mission on Mt. Lassen.
Photo by Lt. Col. Juan Tinnirello

CAP Capts Frank Riebli,  Heinrich Lutz and 
2nd Lt Kelly are ready for departure to their assignment.    
Photo by Lt. Col. Juan Tinnirello

CAP Capt Paul Kubiak assists the 
U.S. Air Force Observer to inspect his aircraft.
Photo by Lt. Col. Juan Tinnirello

One of the several radio operators keeping 
contact with the aircraft and ground teams.
Photo by Lt. Col. Juan Tinnirello