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Statewide crash drill set for Los Alamos

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By Tris DeRoma

 

The Los Alamos Composite Squadron and Civil Air Patrol will host a statewide emergency exercise Saturday, starting early in the morning.

According to squadron leader Maj. Annette Peters, the exercise will involve 10 patrols from across the state and two operation centers. One center will be located at the Los Alamos Airport and the other will be at the Crossroads Bible Church.

“Each month, we have a practice search and rescue exercise, and for the first time this year we are actually having it in Los Alamos,” Peters said.

Most residents probably won’t notice, but North Mesa residents and residents located around the airport probably will, since the search area will include places north, including Los Alamos, Santa Clara and the Valdes Caldera.

“They will certainly notice the aircraft, since all of our Civil Air Patrol aircraft are painted red, white and blue. They’re pretty obvious,” Powers said.

The operation will involve aircraft guiding ground teams to the area, which will be marked with rescue beacons, meant to simulate a downed aircraft.

“We have electronics on each of the aircraft that can pick up the signal from this electronic rescue beacon,” Powers said.

Besides honing rescue skills, Powers said that participants will also have the opportunity to cross train and work on developing other skills as well.

“We’re just trying to give each of the squadrons located in the state of New Mexico the opportunity,” she said. ”We really want to make sure we get all of our squadrons up to the level that if we are called on a moment’s notice any squadron could be activated and serve as incident command.”

Powers also said the exercise will not be in need of volunteers.

“This exercise is to allow our members to do some training so they can be qualified in various positions at incident command as well as air crews,” Powers said.