The Versatility Of Seaplanes In Disaster Relief – A Spotlight On EVAC/ ACA
Disaster relief by seaplanes and GA aircraft have been a topic for decades. For several years now, volunteer pilots in the Pacific Northwest have been organizing to be of service when the expected great earthquake occurs. Such an event would likely yield Tsunami’s and cause widespread destruction to some of the United States most beautiful landscape. In addition to the risk posed by tectonic movements, the area is also home to several active volcanoes which, if triggered to erupt, would cause massive need for disaster relief efforts.
Sky Terry – NW Regional Emergency Services Director with EVAC- Emergency Volunteer Air Corps is one of the people who contacted us, after our article about Civil Air Patrol’s Seaplane in Alaska went viral, thanks to Bryan Emerson’s great Guest Editorial. A good opportunity to stick with this topic and dig deeper, while putting a spotlight on some great initiatives undertaken by the aviation community in the PNW.
Exercises & Training
The first ever joint disaster exercise between the California based SCAPA/DART groups and WA State took place on April 25, 2015. In the end, the exercises involved multiple airports, simulating a disaster response that transported food as well as the simulated transport of injured people.
What was truly unique though was that there was transport food as part of this exercise that was donated at the final airport to a homeless food program.
“To the best of my knowledge this is a historical first for a disaster drill to be combined with a food drive that did deliver food to a homeless program. So it brought a realism that hasn’t been done before. In Washington our local Lake Way Fred Meyers in Bellingham sponsored the first 100 lbs and through donations our state contributed about 380 lbs of food that went to California.” ~ Sky Terry
Below is a video of float planes working with the community of Sudden Valley in Washington State, among many volunteers, EMS individuals and others, to develop an effective way to transport injured people after a catastrophic event like a magnitude 9 plus earthquake. These individuals have demonstrated the importance of having a trained ground crew that knows how to work hand in hand with these types of aircraft and the highly skilled pilots. There is also a great capacity for cargo, food, supplies, etc. to be brought to communities in need.
What has been exciting and now is shaping up to be possibly major improvements in California and Washington State’s disaster response/ recovery ability, is the fairly new development in fully recognizing the important contribution general aviation has had in past disasters – and can have in the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
EVAC Volunteers fly to help others! During emergency situations EVAC pilots and other volunteers provide the resources of General Aviation to help affected people and communities. While such help can be organized quickly on an ad hoc basis, it is better to plan beforehand so that lines of communication are clear and available resources are already identified. EVAC is a Member group of the Air Care Alliance, a national coalition of volunteer-based public benefit flying groups which lists all of such organizations flying in the United States. Members include various groups.
About Air Care Alliance
The Air Care Alliance promotes, supports, and represents public benefit flying through communication and cooperation among organizations facilitating flights for health, compassion, and community service. Public benefit flying organizations utilize the unique capabilities of General Aviation aircraft to lend a hand whenever rapid and safe air transportation is needed to make health care accessible, save lives, or otherwise serve the public.