EVAC: the Emergency Volunteer Air Corpssm
"The Alpha Plan"
Joseph T. DePaolo
Every State Governor, State Aviation Official and Emergency Manager should be aware of the aviation resources within their state and how to use them before, during and after disasters. These resources are a vast untapped asset and should be organized to be of use for recovery operations when emergencies exist. These resources include The Civil Air Patrol (CAP), The Emergency Volunteer Air Corp (EVAC), The Air Care Alliance, Angel Flights and any other General Aviation organizations with aircraft.
Guidance for the use of all General Aviation resources for disaster recovery is provided by the Federal Aviation Administration in Advisory Circular OO-7D, "State and Regional Disaster Airlift" (SARDA) planning.
Whether your state has a "SARDA" plan or not, it is very important that we have some planning guidelines for the use of General Aviation assets to conduct "SARDA" type operations, keeping in mind that the main purpose of these operations is the support of a disaster response by air. Specifically, using light aircraft and helicopters, the flying in of emergency personnel, material & equipment and the transfer of injured casualties to supporting hospitals. All the organizations mentioned above are flying organizations. They should not be used for sandbagging or shelter monitors.
When disaster strikes any state and aviation support is requested of any of these organizations, units of these organizations can find themselves in one of three (3) categories: Disaster area, Support area or All other units. Basically stated: if you are not in the disaster area or at a support base, "Then You Move".
Unit planning for disaster relief response should be based on the required movement of all personnel and equipment in support of relief operations. The movement to the support or staging bases should be by all possible means. However, the movement between these bases and the disaster area should be by air only. Each unit should take with it everything it will need for independent operations. Expect to find nothing at the base you are sent to.
Also expect that everything in the disaster has been destroyed.
A: DISASTER AREA:
1: SITUATION: Local community is destroyed by disaster. This may or may not include the local airport. All local unit members should report to the airport as soon as possible. Unit leaders should keep in touch with local officials.
2: Duties: Report airport status to the local Emergency Manager, FAA Flight Service and any higher headquarters. If the airport is operational, set up and prepare to receive aircraft from support bases. If there are any serviceable aircraft at your base send them to a support base. No fueling or maintenance is to be done.
Communications are a must, so use radio, telephone or courier. If the airport is not operational, work to make it so. If that is not possible, seek alternate landing sites, such as a road or field that could be used.
B: SUPPORT OR STAGING BASES:
1: SITUATION: Support or Staging bases should be selected as close to the disaster area as possible, but far enough to eliminate any hazard. Select a base with as much facilities as possible, such as fueling, maintenance, logging, Etc.. There should be no more than two (2) support bases. Any more than 2 may be hazardous to flight operations.
2: DUTIES: For relief operations the staging or support base is one of the most important factors. It is the "AIR HEAD" for the receipt and shipment of disaster supplies, equipment and personnel. It is actually a base from which aircraft shuttle into and out of the disaster area. It is a collection point for everything going in and a recovery base for everything coming out. It is the aircraft home base, providing fuel, food and rest for the flight crews and aircraft. It is also the point where aircraft are matched with loads and weights are computed. And it is the point where airlifted casualties are picked up by ambulances for transfer to local hospitals. The line of communications connecting a disaster area and its supporting bases are the primary lines that must be established and maintained.
C: ALL OTHER ORGANIZATION UNITS:
1: SITUATION: All other organization units outside of the disaster area and not at a selected support or staging base will be called upon to support relief operations. As stated earlier, planning and training must be geared to a movement of all personnel and equipment (including all available pilots and aircraft) to support bases.
2: DUTIES: Contact all personnel and prepare to "FLY Away". When activated, necessary information should be provided to the organization leader. All operations shall be conducted in accordance with all FAA, FEMA and organization regulations. Safety shall not be questioned. Unit leaders shall be responsible for the rotation of their personnel. It is also their responsibility to keep track of their equipment and personnel and replace them, when necessary, during the operation.
MISSIONS:Missions will be assigned at the support bases, not at the disaster area. Requests should be made by local officials direct to the state EOC at the state Capitol. Approved requests will be forwarded to the support bases for assignment. Most flight operations will involve missions into the disaster and return. There will be no fueling or maintenance done in the disaster area. Missions for survey of damage assessment and/or view of the disaster area by officials will be done by aircraft from the support bases.
Airborne real time television from airborne cameras should be transmitted to both local officials and the support bases.
MISSION COORDINATOR:The duty station for the mission coordinator from whatever organization involved should be at the state EOC, located at the state Capitol. It is here that proper coordination can be accomplished with all state and Federal officials involved with the disaster. Assistant Mission Coordinators (AMC) should be selected for the disaster area and the support bases. Communications should be established between the State EOC, the support bases and the disaster area. FAA Flight Service should be kept informed and a Temporary Flight Restricted (TFR) area should be requested.
MISSION STAFF:Support base Assistant Mission Coordinators should enlist a coordinating staff. This should include a Flight Operations Officer, A Ground Operations Officer, A Communications Officer and an Administrative Officer. Whatever organization is involved should formulate what the staff should consist of and their duties.
TRAINING AND EXERCISES: Training and practice exercises will be very important for this operation. First should come classroom training for all members, including the Mission Coordinator, Assistant Mission Coordinators and all support base personnel. This training should include a complete overview of the entire operation, a review of each members responsibilities, types of missions to be conducted and do's & don't.
Units of the organization involved should conduct practice missions for experience. These could be done on a weekend and last not more than two days. A remote airport should be selected somewhere in the state. Approval should be obtained from local authorities. Select a simulated disaster site and move everything needed into the remote airport, set up operations and fly practice missions. Expect that the remote airfield has no facilities. A real test could include a Mass Casualty Exercise, coordinating with local officials, by flying into the simulated disaster area and airlifting simulated casualties back to the support base. Every year all hospitals have to conduct exercises for disaster preparedness. Find one that would like to participate.
Copyright 2001 Joseph T. DePaolo: August, 2001
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