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AFRCC’s search and rescue course graduates 18 more students

  • Published
  • By Air Force Lt. Col. Karen Roganov
  • CONR-1AF

“These things we do…that others may live,” is the ethos of the rescue community and the driver behind recent training for 18 people from six interagency organizations like the Coast Guard, Air Force Reserve, active-duty and local civilian government.

Students taking the Basic Inland Search and Rescue course developed and taught by members of the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC), First Air Force, Air Forces Northern located at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., gathered at the Gulf Coast State College (CGSC), Bay County Emergency Management Center (BCEMC), Southport, Fla., to learn new skills May 26-27.

“I was very impressed by the class,” said John Cywinski, adjunct instructor, GCSC, BCEMC. “I now have a better understanding of what resources are available to responders and how to go about utilizing them.”

AFRCC Instructor Danny Conley is the course manager and creator since 1992, developed with other AFRCC search and rescue (SAR) controllers who are experienced in the coordination of both peacetime and combat search and rescue operations. He and his team conduct the BISC nationwide to help standardize incident command training in accordance with to National SAR Plan, according to Conley. 

“My favorite times in the class are when I have the pleasure of seeing an ‘aha moment’ with a student while instructing,” said Conley.  “When someone ‘gets it’, I have done my job.”

The course covered how the national SAR network and AFRCC mission function. Next, the students learned about search strategy or a “game plan,” during the mission evolution phase. Lastly, students engaged in a small-group exercise to respond to reports by family of a civilian pilot flying a small general aviation aircraft who did not arrive at his destination.

“The group output will often be greater than the sum of the individual,” said Lt. Col. Matthew Mustain, commander, AFRCC. The AFRCC instructors divided the groups to have varied skill sets for synergy.

With a topographical map, radar and cell phone forensics, emergency beacon reports, weather reports, statistical behavioral data on lost travelers, flight plans, false leads, and other clues, the participants reached their objective of creating a logical SAR area in order to find the simulated traveler.

Students also learned more about how to engage with family and friends of the traveler to include participating in a mock press conference with simulated reporters.

The Air Force Rescue Coordination Center located in the community of Panama City, Fla., is on task 24 hours a day, seven days a week as the United States' on-land search and rescue (SAR) coordinator for federal SAR activities in the 48 contiguous United States, Mexico and Canada. They can be contacted at website and telephone number 850-283-5688 for those interested in learning more about the course.

SAR in the United States is based on the humanitarian principle, which compels people to render aid to those in distress. With a BISC certificate of completion in hand, 18 more students are better poised to respond.

“I now also know more about AFRCC at Tyndall Air Force Base and its mission to save lives…. not just combat personnel, but civilian as well,” said Cywinski.