Va. Guard Advisory: Special Va. Guard response force to undergo external evaluation in Virginia Beach

VaGuardLogo_4mar15.jpgSANDSTON, Va. — A Virginia National Guard special response force capable of providing support to first responders and civil authorities after a chemical, biological or nuclear incident will undergo an external evaluation at the Virginia Beach Fire and EMS Training Center and members of the news media are invited to attend their final preparations May 14 at 10 a.m.

FOR THE NEWS MEDIA: Please RSVP to Master Sgt. A. J. Coyne at (757) 541-2010 or by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, May 13, 2015, if you plan to attend. The address for the Virginia Beach Fire and EMS Training Center is 927 S Birdneck Rd, Virginia Beach, VA 23451.

The Virginia National Guard’s Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Yield Explosive Response Force Package, known as the CERFP (pronounced “surf-p”), 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 Va. 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 CERFP was rated as “fully trained” on 15 of the 16 major tasks they had to accomplish after their last evaluation in May 2013.

The CERFP is unique in that it is a task force that includes elements from several different units rather than one specific unit:
– Soldiers from the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion provide command and control and incident management.
– Soldiers from the Rocky Mount-based 229th Chemical Company serve as a mass casualty decontamination element.
– Soldiers from the West Point-based 237th Engineer Company operate as the search and extraction element.
– Airmen from the 192nd Medical Group stationed at Langley Air Force Base provide the mass casualty medical triage and treatment element.
– Airmen from the 192nd Fighter Wing at Langley Air Force Based provide communications capability using the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability, or JISCC.
– Airmen from the 113th Service Squadron from the D.C. National Guard operate as a Fatality Search and Recovery Team.

The West Virginia-based Joint Interagency Training and Education Center will conduct the evaluation and oversee the exercise, along with personnel from National Guard Bureau. The unit will be evaluated on 16 different major tasks including conducting search and extraction operations, conducting rope extraction operations, establishing a response decontamination site, conducting ambulatory and non-ambulatory decontamination, conducting military personnel and equipment decontamination, conducting casualty collection and medical triage and providing treatment and emergency care for casualties.

If an incident requiring CERFP support occurs, Soldiers and Airmen are alerted through the Virginia Guard Joint Operations Center and mobilized on state active duty. If the incident is located within Virginia they would proceed to the incident site and fall under the control of the incident commander. If the incident is located outside of Virginia, the Joint Force Headquarters – Virginia would coordinate with the receiving state under the terms agreed to in the Emergency Mutual Aid Compact.

Virginia’s CERFP was authorized in June 2006. There are currently 27 CERFP teams available nationwide with three in FEMA Region 3 in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Virginia.