Since its inception during World War II, the Civil Air Patrol has flown thousands of hours annually aiding in search-and-rescue missions, saving an average of 80 people per year, according to the CAP National Headquarters.

The CAP also provides a diverse array of services to include disaster relief, humanitarian services and even counter-drug operations.

"The Civil Air Patrol has three missions. There is aerospace education, the cadet program and emergency services," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Randy Golleher, squadron deputy commander of the cadets, who is assigned to the Fort Leonard Wood Air Force Detachment.

To meet their emergency services training requirements, more than a dozen cadets from the Fort Leonard Wood Composite Squadron of the CAP took a tour of the 1st Lt. Terry Facility March 21.

"The hazardous materials awareness training the cadets are getting here falls under emergency services," Golleher said.

Christinia Nettles, CAP safety officer, led the cadets around an overturned rail car, wrecked tractor trailer and other simulated accident scenes that occupy the grounds of the Terry Facility.

Nettles, who is also an instructor at the Terry Facility, explained how to tell the difference between a pressurized rail car that could be carrying a volatile substance and a non-pressurized rail car that could carry flammable liquids, corrosives or other hazardous materials.

Nettles pointed to the protective dome that sits on top of the pressurized rail car, explaining the dome's role of protecting the tank's valves.

There are many things the cadets have to look at concerning safety issues when responding to a search and rescue or natural disaster, Nettles said.

When responding to an incident, the first thing the cadets need to do is identify what types of hazards are present, Golleher added.

After touring the grounds, the cadets headed back inside the facility to get some hands-on experience operating positive pressure, self-contained breathing apparatus.

The cadets heaved the heavy tanks over their backs before pulling the masks over their faces.

For many of the cadets, like Cadet 1st Lt. Joseph Jeffers, "getting into the gear" was their favorite part.

Jeffers, who joined the CAP because of his desire to fly airplanes, has learned a lot since joining.

"It's a great experience overall," Jeffers said. "It's not just learning about emergency services, you gain life and leadership skills in the CAP."

Cadet Senior Master Sgt. Abigail Spurgeon, who plans on joining the military, couldn't agree more.

"Once I join the military, I will already be better prepared to be a leader," Spurgeon said.

The program helps more than just the cadets develop leadership skills, Golleher said.

"Being a mentor, I can use what I learn here and transfer that to my duties as a noncommissioned officer," he added.

The Fort Leonard Wood Composite Squadron of the CAP meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays in Building 1288.

For more information about the Civil Air Patrol, contact Civil Air Patrol Lt. Col. John Greenwald, squadron commander, at jfcj.greenwald@gmail.com. For information about joining the cadet program, contact Goelleher at golleherr@yahoo.com.