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Dispatch System Set in Motion

posted Sep 15, 2017, 5:21 AM by Kmberly C. Frady   [ updated Oct 22, 2017, 9:57 PM ]
MANASSAS, VA Some cold dark night in the near future a van load of emergency services volunteers will be in route to an incident. Perhaps they will be the only vehicle on a deserted road, but a newly formed Dispatch Team will be monitoring them all the way. The team, project of Maj. Nancy Carlson with the Prince William Composite Squadron of Civil Air Patrol (CAP), got underway last week for a training exercise and for a search mission.

Those first two uses of the Dispatch Team gave proof that the new system works. They recorded over 1300 miles traveled and logged hundreds of volunteer hours for a search and rescue exercise and for a distress beacon location mission. This team is the first of its kind and achieved documentation that has been hard to come by in the past. The phones at dispatch are monitored throughout the operations as crews and volunteers phoned in starting and ending in real time. Additionally, the new system will allow on scene personnel to see who is en-route and what qualifications they hold.

As late as this weekend, the system was in effect and provided directions for volunteers to navigate a set of poorly marked roads. At one point a vehicle was late in arrival and steps were underway to notify officials and institute a search. The volunteer arrived before that was necessary but such events are a proof of concept for the system.

Plans are in progress to allow pre-recording of data such as automobile identification, Maj. Carlson said, to make reporting to the system as seamless as possible. The system is adjustable to accommodate large and small teams easily. In the future it may be expanded to air crews as well. This system also allows calculation of time and miles of driving provided by volunteers.

Maj. Carlson has been a member of Civil Air Patrol since 2008. She has held positions in the Cadet Programs, Public Affairs, and Emergency Services and is a qualified Ground Branch Director. She also serves with the Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group. 

Civil Air Patrol Maj. Nancy Carlson is shown at the check-in table for this weekend's Group 3 Emergency Services Bivouac, the third event using the units new dispatch system. As this check-in was being done, dispatch was handled by 2d Lt. Beth Heidenreich, providing tracking and navigation services.

Cadets relax around a campfire at the Group 3 Emergency Services Bivouac Friday night at Prince William Forest Park after a transit monitored by the units dispatch system. 

Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force, which consists of regular Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, along with Air Force retired military and civilian employees. CAP, in its Total Force role, operates a fleet of 550 aircraft and performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 78 lives annually. Civil Air Patrol’s 56,000 members nationwide also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. Its members additionally play a leading role in aerospace education and serve as mentors to more than 24,000 young people currently participating in the CAP cadet program. Performing missions for America for the past 75 years, CAP received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2014 in honor of the heroic efforts of its World War II veterans. CAP also participates in Wreaths Across America, an initiative to remember, honor and teach about the sacrifices of U.S. military veterans. Visit for more information.