Special Va. National Guard response force to undergo external evaluation

SANDSTON, 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 in the Virginia Beach area, and they will conduct their final preparations April 24, 2017. The evaluation tests the unit’s abilities to respond to a simulated emergency situation with collapsed structures and an improvised radioactive detonation.

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 consequence management, incident site communications, urban search and rescue, mass causality decontamination, technical decontamination, medical triage and stabilization and human remains 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 assessed as “fully trained” on 19 of 23 total major tasks, needing practice on four tasks and having no untrained tasks by an external evaluation held in May 2015. Read more at http://vaguard.dodlive.mil/2015/05/18/7451/

The CERFP is unique in that it is a task force that includes elements from multiple different units rather than one specific unit:

  • Soldiers assigned to the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion provide command and control and incident management.
  • Soldiers assigned to 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 assigned to the 192nd Medical Group stationed at Langley Air Force Base provide the mass casualty medical triage and treatment element.
  • Airmen assigned to the 192nd Communications Flight at Langley Air Force Based provide communications capability using the Joint Incident Site Communications Capability, or JISCC.
  • Airmen assigned to the 113th Service Squadron from the D.C. National Guard operate as a Fatality Search and Recovery Team.

The Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group provides training readiness oversight for the CERFP.

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 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 causalities.

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.


About the Virginia National Guard:

The Virginia National Guard is a unique dual-status force with a federal mission to provide an combat reserve to fight our nation’s wars and a state mission to provide a response force that answers the call of the Governor to defend the commonwealth.

Nearly 1,500 Soldiers and Airmen served on federal active duty in 2016, and Virginia Guard units conducted a wide variety of missions including mission command, military-to-military partnership building, security and rotary wing flight operations and maintenance. Nearly 400 personnel are still serving on federal active duty in the Middle East, and they join the nearly 15,000 Soldiers and Airmen who have mobilized for homeland security missions, combat operations and peacekeeping and stabilization missions since September 11, 2001.

More than 900 Va. Guard personnel served on state active duty in the last 18 months in response to severe weather events as part of the state’s multi-agency team. Soldiers transported first responders through heavy snow and high water, helped get citizens to safety and used chain saws to help clear debris and open roads after tornadoes and hurricanes. Soldiers, Airmen and Virginia Defense Force members also assisted with mission command, logistics and public information support.