Finally, they present the information usually in a PDF
file and Google Earth KMZ files illustrating a cell
locations at specific times. Even if a phone is not
being used but is powered up and located within network
coverage, Ogden and Ready may receive enough information to concentrate the search in the right area. Once the
battery dies, historical data may provide less accurate location information.
Ready compared the searches to looking for a needle
in multiple haystacks. information the team provides
keeps people from searching in the wrong he said.
Radar analysis and cellular forensics technology have had
an incredible impact on search and rescue missions.
In 2014, 662 search and rescue missions were supported
and 1,925 hours flown. In 2015, 920 SAR missions took
place, with 1,827 hours flown. The AFRCC credited the cell
phone forensics and radar analysis teams with 53 lives saved
Desmarais said the answer is simple:
missions continue to
change to adapt to our
Fulfilling those needs means gradually moving into unmanned aerial
vehicle (UAV) operations. CAP has
been conducting escort missions for
large UAVs for several years, accompanying them between restricted areas as
is required under current operating
rules for the national airspace. A large
mission performing UAV escorts on
nearly a daily basis recently began in
Syracuse, New York, with a potential
to spin off into other missions elsewhere.
CAP is also in the process of developing mini-UAVs to augment existing
goal is to have a true operating capability for mini-UAVs in each
wing by Desmarais said. Eight
wings one test unit in each of the
eight CAP regions have fielded initial UAV units. Training is underway
In fiscal year 2016, CAP supported 1,001 SAR missions,
generated 1,745 flight hours and was credited with 92 lives
saved. Over history of tracking lives saved, the annual
average has been 80 lives saved. In recent years, over 80 percent of the lives saved involve contributions by cellular
forensics experts, radar analysts or both.
though the hours flying are going down,
still saving a lot of Desmarais said. this year has
already been above average, largely due to cell phone and radar
analysis and forensics support. The technology helps for sure.
more than one occasion, the members supporting this
work have told me that they get frustrated if they are not able
to bring missions to closure in less than 24 hours, and normally a few hours.
that just 10 years ago we still ran many missions a year for missing persons or aircraft that went on for a
week or longer due to the lack of information, this is a vast
What does the future hold for CAP?
in order to have teams ready to
respond by the end of 2016.
the rules are being developed
along with processes to integrate these
systems, it is taking some time to do it
right, but we should have a good
product in the Desmarais said.
Collecting imagery for incident
response is one of bread-andbutter missions, and mini-UAVs are
expected to help fill the gap in what
ground teams collect especially
during inclement weather, when aircrews might be prevented from flying
to gather needed imagery.
Desmarais envisions using miniUAVs to cover smaller post-disaster
affected areas, such as a neighborhood
struck by a tornado. mini-UAVs
could be used in the field to collect
imagery over an area, approximately
square miles, in short 30-minute operations, and that imagery could be stitched
together to quickly provide a clear
picture of damage to an he said.
As technology and equipment continue to evolve, training and the mission focus will likely change.
been a member since 1987
and an employee since Desmarais said. are many things
that we do now that I could not imagine we would be doing back when I
started. sure that will be the case
not a matter of if another disaster will happen
a matter of when. It will
John Desmarais, director of operations
Citizens Serving Communities