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Prior to the creation of standardized ground team qualifications for Civil Air Patrol, CAP Ranger Grades paved the way for standardizing ground operations training. Following the National Emergency Services Curriculum Project in 2001, CAP Ranger Grades took on a new role as supplemental advanced training for ground team members to qualify in field tradecraft above and beyond GTM standards to prepare specialized ground teams to operate and survive in austere search environments over long duration missions.  Rangers are CAP's leaders, instructors, and experts in searches requiring this expertise.


The Expert Ranger is the pinnacle of the CAP Ranger Program and signified expertise in wilderness search and rescue and survival.  Expert Rangers are CAP Ground Branch Directors with the ability to coordinate multiple Ranger Teams in the field for extended, challenging search environments beyond the capabilities of a standard Ground Branch Director.  Expert Rangers are awarded the Black Keystone and Belt.

Expert Fact Sheet and List of Recipients

Instructor is the second highest level of Ranger Grades, and is reserved for those people who choose not to test for Expert Ranger. For Instructor, an Advanced Ranger must possess certain qualifications from the Red Cross and FEMA, attend Special Advanced Winter School, be knowledgeable in at least three different disciplines that benefit the ranger program (e.g. possess Emergency medical technician ratings, Military Service, Incident Commander ratings from FEMA, be a Registered Nurse, etc...), and be active in the Ranger Program for at least five years after being awarded Advanced Ranger.

Advanced Rangers are CAP Ground Team Leaders capable of leading a ground team in advanced navigation tasks and advanced ropework essential to complex rescue environments.  Advanced Rangers are also proficient Ranger skills instructors.  They are often used to help advise Ground Branch Directors on complex ground search and rescue environments or lead ground teams in the field when mission parameters dictated extended field operations.

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Rangers holding Ranger First Class are team members capable of assisting a ground team leader and assist leading the ground team. They are qualified CAP Ground Team Member 1 and in addition are highly proficient in advanced map work wilderness survival tasks. R1s are self sufficient in operating in difficult search environments for extended periods of time with little support.  

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Ranger Second Class members are qualified as Ground Team Member 2 and can perform basic mapwork, proficient in woodland operations skills, and basic field first aid. R2s are relied upon to sustain up to 3 days in the field and can physically endure isolated and challenging search environments for this duration without resupply.  They form the core body of the Ranger Team. 

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Ranger Third Class members are the most basic level of Rangers.   They are qualified Ground Team Members with additional skills in field operations and wilderness mobility.  They possess the skills and knowledge of a GTM3 with basic knots and field knowledge and can be relied on challenging field work in some adverse conditions and limited duration.  R3s are the foundation of Ranger proficiency to advanced to higher grades.

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Master Medics represent the leadership of the CAP Medic Program and are typically experienced medical providers with years of experience both within the Hawk Mountain program and the civilian community.  They hold multiple instructor ratings in the medical field and are responsible for guiding the growth of the medic program.  In addition to being able to perform the expected role of the senior medic, they are responsible for the training of all the other levels of medics. They are awarded the Red Scarf and Belt.

Master Medic Fact Sheet and List of Recipients 

Senior medics are considered to be Operational Medical Specialists. They are qualified to manage medical support operations for CAP missions as a team medic or anything up to and including medical operations during a multi-agency mission incident within their professional and legal abilities.  Senior medics also are qualified to manage HMRS medical operations in the absence of a Master Medic. They are 18 years or older and have been a Field Medic 1st Class for at least 2 years.  In addition, they hold the EMT-B certification and PHTLS certification minimally. They are well educated and trained in emergency medical care and treatment, general medical operations, routine and emergency evacuation procedures, medical mission planning, Incident Command System, Triage/Mass casualty operations, preventative medicine, field sanitation and hygiene, and Search and Rescue operations and techniques.

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Medic 1st Class are considered fully qualified field medical personnel. They are typically the medic responsible for team care, and often care for team members, or patients found in the course of search operations. They have completed an additional year of continuing medical education, advanced SAR skills, and hold Wilderness First Aid as well as a First Responder certification and the Professional Rescuer CPR certification. They are awarded wear of the Red Scarf. 

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Field Medic is the initial qualification for CAP Medics. They have completed the basic course, hold a wilderness First Aid Certification and Adult CPR Certification. They primarily operate under the supervision of Medic 1st Class or Ground Team Leader. They are awarded wear of the Green Scarf.

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