PHOENIX - In Arizona, the Civil Air Patrol, the citizen auxiliary of the U.S. Air Force, is hard at work during the ongoing pandemic, as they endeavor to complete missions to help out various communities.
Before the world changed in 2020, the Arizona Wing of the Civil Air Patrol focused on STEM and aerospace education in schools, working with their cadets, and went on various missions.
Much of that has turned virtual since the pandemic began.
"When you shut all of that down, you have a need to contribute," said Major Margot Myers with the Arizona Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. "It is what we do."
Now, they have pivoted, and are providing relief as part of their disaster response.
Early on, they delivered meals for people in quarantine. Now, they are transporting COVID-19 test kits and samples across the state, from tribal lands to labs in the larger cities.
"Being able to fly helps keep our pilots' skills up," said Major Myers.
They are also flying with officials scouting for testing and vaccine distribution sites, making it so they can see potential locations from above.
"We can get them there pretty quickly," said Major Myers. "Instead of taking four hours to drive to Yuma, spend 45 minutes looking at a site and coming back, we can get them there in much less time."
They are also extremely proud of their efforts to provide blood for the Red Cross during a time when there is a major shortage by holding blood drives at their squadrons. They have collected 2,100 units of blood, and that number can save 6,300 lives.
"That is what we are here for," said Majpr Myers. "That is our DNA, if you will: citizens serving communities."
The Civil Air Patrol has become a top donor organization for the Red Cross.