ONALASKA, Wisconsin (WXOW) - Many members of the La Crosse County Civil Air Patrol Composite Squadron are looking to move from their cadet ranking into the U.S. Military.
Saturday they got some of that military training while participating in ground search and rescue drills.
"We take training very seriously, you train like you fight, you fight like you train," said Cadet Lt. Col. Michael Ebert. "In our case, you save like you train, so we go out there in the mindset that we need to find this person quickly."
Ebert, 15, led a ground team of cadets – who ranged in age from 12 to 18 – through the park behind the Onalaska Aquatic Center.
They were searching for a fictional teen and used tracks, found articles of clothing and specialty crews to find him.
"We want to be trained for that kind of situation," said Capt. Linda Zimmerman, the La Crosse Squadron's emergency services officer.
Zimmerman oversees the deployment of the ground team.
"As they progress in their rank, they take on more and more responsibility and they learn that leadership equals responsibility," Zimmerman said.
That responsibility transferred to the target area. The cadets found the missing teen and treated him medically.
While the exercise may have ended, this team went back and reviewed the procedure at their base.
"Any day we can get the younger cadets to get more tasks and things signed off so they can be rated ground team members, is a good day," Ebert said. "I go home happy because I know long after I leave the squadron, that they're gonna be leaders here, they're gonna know what they're doing and they'll be able to teach the next guys what they'll need to know to be able to find people and save lives if they ever have to."
This mission may be over, but this squadron's mission to hone ground search and rescue skills has only begun.
The Squadron was also supposed to practice air search and rescue Saturday, but clouds and the chance of snow kept all planes grounded.
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