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Civil Air Patrol practices in Battle Creek for next disaster

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BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Multiple emergency agencies jump into action when disaster strikes, including the Civil Air Patrol, and members are training over the weekend to make sure they're ready for the next call.

The Civil Air Patrol is made up of people from all backgrounds and all career fields, but they all have a passion to serve.

Members spent Saturday practicing a variety of scenarios at the W.K. Kellogg Airport in Battle Creek.

Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. Chris Felton said, “We have a simulated weather event. It'd be like if a big storm came through with tornadoes and then the aftermath of that. We might have a missing aircraft, missing persons, and again, these are all simulated.”

The U.S. Air Force evaluates the volunteer force every two years and training sessions, like those held over the weekend, prepare the 60,000 Civil Air Patrol members nationwide for a real emergency.

The volunteers have responded to Hurricane Sandy and the BP Gulf oil spill, but they also have missions in Michigan.

Felton said, “Some of our missions have included lost hikers, lost snowmobilers. We have a variety of saves where we were able to find people that went missing. Those are big for our area, lost aircraft, as well.”

The Civil Air Patrol is also responsible for maintaining a nationwide communication network.

Civil Air Patrol Major Robert Bowden said, “In a natural disaster the common infrastructure - the cell phones and internet - most likely, are not going to be available. So we have to be able to pass communications, task our crews, make sure they're checking in, get reports back that we can then disseminate to other public agencies as needed.”

Members said it is crucial to practice so they are ready when the next disaster hits.

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