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