NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — An exercise entailing joint search and rescue capability centered on training members of the Red Rock Search and Rescue, Nevada Civil Air Patrol and National Association of Search and Rescue, lasted one week, split into two weekends, Dec. 27-29 and Jan. 3-5 at the Valley of Fire State Park, Perkins Airport in Overton and Stewarts Point in Lake Mead, Nev.
Four Airmen from Nellis AFB were involved directly with the exercise, along with 60 participants, allowing for the Nevada CAP to host and be the lead agency on a search for a simulated missing aircraft while providing logistical support to ensure the exercise is properly carried out.
The four volunteers were Staff Sgt. David Sidle, 99th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter; Senior Airman Grayson Grantham, 99th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution journeyman; Maj. David Wyrick, 315th Weapons Squadron assistant director of operations; and Senior Master Sgt. John Mayfield, 99th Medical Group functional area manager.
“This was the first time these agencies worked together in this capacity from a forward operating base/incident command post at Overton,” Sidle said. “The CAP wanted to break the stigma of that, ‘We can’t play with others’ approach and show that we can work together in any capacity.”
Both Sidle and Grantham were CAP cadets when they were teenagers and later, transitioned as CAP instructors shortly after joining active duty Air Force.
The exercise was broken into three portions. The first portion was educational and held in a classroom. The second portion was hands-on learning in the field at the Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, and the third portion was the operational search and rescue scenario.
“With every exercise comes a challenge. You might have to simulate medical emergencies but have no medic,” Grantham said. “The combined effort [of all the participants] brought a lot of training and experiences that Air Force does not get to see.”
The joint exercise combined experiences to not only graduate a class of NASAR members but to provide training.
“The exercise gave everyone participating in search and rescue the multiagency training needed for rea world event,” Grantham said.
Grantham shared his experience working with several major agencies involved in the exercise.
“I loved it. Getting the opportunity to not only play and work this exercise, learning how to command a large capacity was awesome,” Grantham said. “Being a Senior Airman in the Air Force, I don’t get the luxury to manage something so large; it helped my ability to lead immensely.”