Capabilities demonstration gives Va. leaders, first responders up-close look at CERFP, 34th CST

Soldiers and Airmen from the Virginia National Guard’s Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Response Force Package, also known as the CERFP (pronounced “surf-p”), and 34th Civil Support Team conduct a capabilities demonstration Aug. 26, 2015, in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers and Airmen from the Virginia National Guard’s Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Response Force Package, also known as the CERFP (pronounced “surf-p”), and 34th Civil Support Team conduct a capabilities demonstration Aug. 26, 2015, in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

RICHMOND, Va. — Soldiers and Airmen from the Virginia National Guard’s Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Response Force Package, also known as the CERFP (pronounced “surf-p”), and 34th Civil Support Team hosted a capabilities demonstration Aug. 26, 2015, in Richmond, Va. The demonstration was designed to educate local, state and federal law enforcement, firefighters and medical personnel with what the units can do and how to request their assistance.

Soldiers and Airmen from the Virginia National Guard’s Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Response Force Package, also known as the CERFP (pronounced “surf-p”), and 34th Civil Support Team conduct a capabilities demonstration Aug. 26, 2015, in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Soldiers and Airmen from the Virginia National Guard’s Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Response Force Package, also known as the CERFP (pronounced “surf-p”), and 34th Civil Support Team conduct a capabilities demonstration Aug. 26, 2015, in Richmond, Va. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

“The Virginia National Guard plays a critical role in preparing our Commonwealth to handle a variety of incidents that would require a large-scale and orderly response,” Virginia Del. Betsy Carr said. “After attending the informative CBRNE capabilities conference and learning about our readily available equipment, decontamination, medical and communication capabilities, I am confident that Virginia is ready to respond. We are extremely fortunate to have these dedicated men and women available to deploy at a moment’s notice to help citizens all across our commonwealth.”

The intent of the Virginia CBRNE Capabilities Day was twofold, according to Maj. Colin Noyes, who is both commander of the 276th Engineer Battalion, 91st Troop Command, and the CERFP. The first intent was to initiate dialogue between localities, state and federal agencies “so when an emergency happens we are not meeting for the first time,” he said. The second was to show the Virginia Guard’s capabilities to those agencies so they can better understand how their operations can all work together.

“The biggest thing is you have such a large array of equipment that’s useable for us,” said Capt. Mark Rowland of the Henrico Fire Department. “Your decon equipment is awesome. It’s topnotch. I love the mobility of it and it would come in perfect if we had an emergency.”

In addition to the CERFP and 34th CST, personnel from the Virginia Defense Force were on hand and demonstrated their mobile command post trailer, which can provide communication capabilities over several different types of networks, both digital and analog. The VDF is an all-volunteer force authorized by the Code of Virginia and organized under the Virginia Department of Military Affairs reporting to the Adjutant General of Virginia.

Virginia Del. Betsy Carr learns about the capabilities of the Virginia Defense Force mobile command post trailer during a capabilities demonstration Aug. 26, 2015, in Richmond, Va. Members of the VDF joined Soldiers and Airmen from the Virginia National Guard’s Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Response Force Package, also known as the CERFP, and 34th Civil Support Team in educating local, state and federal law enforcement, firefighters and medical personnel with what the units can do and how to request their assistance. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Virginia Del. Betsy Carr learns about the capabilities of the Virginia Defense Force mobile command post trailer during a capabilities demonstration Aug. 26, 2015, in Richmond, Va. Members of the VDF joined Soldiers and Airmen from the Virginia National Guard’s Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Response Force Package, also known as the CERFP, and 34th Civil Support Team in educating local, state and federal law enforcement, firefighters and medical personnel with what the units can do and how to request their assistance. (Photo by Master Sgt. A.J. Coyne, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

The CERFP can conduct tasks associated with incident management, urban search and rescue, mass causality decontamination, technical decontamination, medical triage and treatment and fatality search and recovery. The force is made up of Soldiers and Airmen from Virginia Guard units based in Petersburg, West Point, Rocky Mount and Langley Air Force Base, as well as personnel from the Washington, D. C. Air National Guard. The unit’s mission is to provide immediate response capability to the governor for searching an incident site that might include damaged and collapsed buildings, rescuing any casualties, decontaminating them and performing medical triage and initial treatment to stabilize them for transport to a medical facility.

The Fort Pickett-based 34th CST supports first responders in potential biological, chemical, nuclear, radiological and explosive incidents. The unit can identify chemical, biological, and radiological substances, assess current and projected consequences, advise an incident commander on response measures and assist with requests for additional state support.

Both the CERFP and the 34th CST are classified as National Guard – Civil Support assets and are federally resourced, trained and sustained and operate under the control of state leadership. The Adjutant General of Virginia may deploy either team to support state emergency response under the direction of the governor or to support another state’s response under a supported governor.

“This was a very successful event with over 130 participants and over three hours of dialogue between federal and state agencies like the FBI and VDEM and localities from the Eastern Shore to Charlottesville and Fairfax County, along with Richmond, Henrico and Farmville,” Noyes said. “I am pleased that there is such a desire to see how the National Guard can be a key player in a response if need be. I see this as an enduring event, which can only get larger.”

Additional reporting by Cotton Puryear, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Photos: Va. Guard’s CERFP, 34th CST host capabilites demonstration for civilian leaders