Maj. Margot Myers
Public Affairs Officer
Arizona Wing

Civil Air Patrol received three major awards for the second straight year from the International Association of Emergency Managers, which recognized the organization's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires.

The 2021 IAEM-USA Uniformed Services Auxiliary Emergency Manager of the Year is John Desmarais, CAP’s director of operations. This award recognizes an individual serving as a member of a uniformed services auxiliary organization performing emergency management as his or her primary function. Accomplishments must show not only a benefit but also a measurable impact.

Desmarais was honored for his role directing CAP’s nationwide response to 102 disasters, including the Type I National Incident Management Team that oversaw the response to earthquakes in Puerto Rico, Hurricane Laura, California wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the award citation, “he planned and led CAP’s support of 130 COVID-19 missions employing more than 4,500 volunteers in 50 states.” It also cites CAP’s emergency blood donor centers and COVID-19 test kit and medical site team transportation.

Desmarais also was recognized for directing all education and training programs as commandant of CAP’s National Emergency Services Academy and overseeing the operations of CAP’s NESA – Mobile Training Team.

The Arizona Wing was recognized with the 2021 IAEM-USA Emergency Management Voluntary Organization of the Year Award. This award is presented to one U.S. voluntary organization that made extraordinary emergency management contributions within the country, including the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.

During a year-long series of responses, the Arizona Wing provided staffing for three weeks to CAP’s Type 1 Incident Management Team following earthquakes in Puerto Rico. In August 2020, Arizona Wing members helped staff the Regional Area Command Incident Management Team managing the 167-volunteer response to Hurricane Laura in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the wing also supported 3½ months of transportation and distribution of meals to homeless quarantined individuals in Arizona, which included feeding more than 2,500 people.

The wing also provided 52 aircraft transport flight moving more than 5,000 COVID-19 test kits to outlying regions of Arizona. When New Mexico state lab facilities were overwhelmed, Wing members rendezvoused with their New Mexico Wing counterparts, who flew in test samples, providing ground transport to testing labs in Arizona. Wing aircrews also supported dozens of timely air transports of Arizona and National Guard site survey teams to multiple locations across the state.

Through Operation Pulse Lift, the Arizona Wing led the nation with the establishment of 42 temporary blood donor centers at seven locations across the state. These were set up to assist in meeting U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams' March 2020 request for blood donor centers when 80% of the nation’s usual donor centers, such as schools and churches, were closed because COVID-19.

Lt. Col. Robert L. Ditch received the IAEM-USA Emergency Management Volunteer of the Year Award, presented to an individual in recognition of exceptional emergency management services and contributions to the community throughout the previous year.

“During 2020, Ditch personified the essence of emergency management volunteerism as a member of CAP,” the citation said. “He was actively engaged in supporting both FEMA and CAP by teaching more than 80 emergency management classes across the nation and virtually. He was the primary agent toward the employment of a 10-person teaching team that rotated between assignments of just-in-time Emergency Operations Center courses for FEMA to emergency managers across the nation. All classes were taught pro bono, keeping the FEMA/EMI programs alive and saving the organizations more than $300,000 in instructional and material costs.”

Ditch also participated in the responses to an earthquake, a major hurricane and the COVID-19 pandemic. His efforts have accounted for the setup and operation of more than 80 blood donor centers in seven states, which collected over 3,800 units of blood and saved an estimated 11,400 lives.

Finally, he supported the ongoing grid/infrastructure assessment and airborne reporting and photography of electrical grid reconstitution efforts in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria. This led to his being able to support incident command duties during and following the 2020 earthquake.

In 2020, IAEM honored CAP as the Voluntary Association of the Yearm  Lt. Col. Eric Templeton of the NESA Squadron as Uniformed Service Auxiliary Member of the Year and Lt. Col. Rick Woolfolk of the Texas Wing as Volunteer Emergency Manager of the Year.

IAEM-USA, the nation’s largest emergency management professional association, is a nonprofit professional organization representing more than 5,000 emergency management and homeland security professionals for local communities, state and federal disaster officials, private sector, nongovernmental organizations and others involved in preparing for, responding to and recovering from all types of disasters including acts of terrorism.