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Careflight lands for Civil Air Patrol training

WORTHINGTON -- Grass clippings whipped in the wind as Avera McKennan's Careflight helicopter approached for landing Friday night at the Worthington Municipal Airport.

The helicopter's visit was part of a training exercise for the region's emergency personnel and was hosted by the local squadron of the Civil Air Patrol (CAP). Attendees received an up-close look at the workings inside the emergency transport helicopter, learned more about CAP and earned continuing education credit for the training.

CAP Commander Mark McCormick said Friday's training was an important step in building relationships with local emergency personnel -- many of whom may not have realized Worthington has its own Civil Air Patrol squadron.

"We just want to make sure you guys know who we are," McCormick said to nearly a dozen training participants.

The Civil Air Patrol is affiliated with the U.S. Air Force. Its members wear camouflage uniforms similar to those in which soldiers in the Army would wear. The local squadron deals primarily with search and rescue operations.

Joseph Bradfield, captain of the local squadron, said the training was, in part, to educate emergency personnel about CAP and the duties it can perform.

What CAP can do is assist in search and rescue by using its own airplane or mobile communications van (comvan). The squadron can be called out for such things as a downed aircraft or a missing child. At one time, CAP was even used to assist law enforcement in aerial searches for drug growing operations.

Bradfield said while some of the squadron's members may be trained emergency personnel or law enforcement officers, when they are called out on a mission for CAP, they wear a different hat.

"We find and preserve," Bradfield said. "Our capacity is not as EMTs or law enforcement."

Using the example of a downed aircraft, Bradfield said if there are no survivors, CAP members are tasked with protecting and preserving the scene. That means no one -- with the exception of emergency personnel -- is allowed access to the site. Records are kept on anyone entering the site, and that information is turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as part of the investigation process.

In addition to learning about CAP's capacity in rescue missions, training attendees took part in a short class led by Avera McKennan Hospital on preparing a landing site for the Careflight helicopter.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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