Virginia National Guard CERFP successfully conducts continuous disaster response exercise

Members of the Virginia National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package conduct a training exercise July 25 at the Virginia Beach Fire Training Center to evaluate the team’s ability to respond effectively and proficiently in the event of a disaster. (Photo by Spc. JoAnna Greene, 29th Infantry Division Public Affairs)

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package conducted their longest continuous training exercise to date July 25, 2012 at the Virginia Beach Fire Training Center. The training is conducted in order to evaluate the team’s ability to respond effectively and proficiently in the event of a disaster.

“This is the best training we have done since I came in to the unit in 2010,” said Lt. Col. Mike Renforth, 192nd Fighter Wing Expeditionary Medical Support commander and CERFP Medical Element Leader. “This is the first time we have ever done overnight, continuous operations with real-world training.”

The CERFP’s mission is to assist local, state and federal agencies in conducting consequence management after a terrorist attack or other type of man-made or natural disaster. The CERFP provides support from about 12-72 hours after the incident occurs when local and state agencies may be overwhelmed or overcome by the need of the incident, and prior to the time when federal authorities would come in to take over the incident site, said Renforth.

“The key part of this exercise is to coordinate with civilian authorities and use them as technical experts while showing them our capabilities; we also develop working relationships with each participating element,” said Lt. Col. Garland Goodrich, incoming commander of the CERFP. “This evaluation provides an opportunity for the CERFP to prepare for our future external evaluation,” said Goodrich.

The internal exercise was conducted by the Virginia National Guard’s 34th Civil Support Team to evaluate the CERFP’s skills and ability to accomplish the mission while coordinating with civilian authorities. The CERFP is made up of Soldiers and Airmen from units based in Petersburg, West Point, Rocky Mount and Langley Air Force Base as well as the D.C. National Guard.

More than 175 Virginia National Guard CERFP members participated in the exercise where the Virginia Beach based-Virginia Task Force 2, Urban Search and Rescue provided subject matter expertise to the exercise and incident commander. The exercise incident commander was Dennis Keane, Battalion Fire Chief at Virginia Beach.

The CERFP’s mission is to assist local, state and federal agencies in conducting consequence management after a terrorist attack or other type of man-made or natural disaster. The team consists of Soldiers and Airmen from a variety of units from around the commonwealth. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs)

Civilian casualty role players were provided by the Virginia Beach Recruit Sustainment Program and the Virginia Commonwealth ChalleNGe Youth Program. The 123rd Flight Services Squadron of the Kentucky Air National Guard provided cooks who worked with the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion cooks to provide meals.

During the exercise, the CERFP successfully trained to be evaluated on 16 major tasks including conducting search and extraction deployment operations, rope extraction operations, establishing a response decontamination site, ambulatory and non-ambulatory decontamination, military personnel and equipment decontamination, casualty collection and medical triage as well as treatment and emergency care for casualties.

“We have really pulled together as a team and it has been a learning experience for all of us,” said Spc. Audrey Jensen, from the Rocky Mount-based 229th Chemical Company.

The CERFP can conduct tasks associated with incident management, search and rescue, mass decontamination, medical triage and treatment and fatality search and recovery. Virginia’s CERFP was authorized in June 2006 and is made up of approximately 250 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen. The units making up Virginia’s CERFP include:

  • The command and control and incident management team from the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion.
  • The mass casualty decontamination element from the Rocky Mount-based 229th Chemical Company
  • The search and extraction element from West Point-based 237th Engineer Company.
  • The mass casualty medical triage and treatment element from the 192d Medical Group, Virginia Air National Guard stationed at Langley Air Force Base.
  • The fatality search and remains recovery element from the 113th Service Squadron from the DC National Guard.


To view photos from the event, visit:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157630748462970/