Kentucky CERFP passes all marks in skills certification

By Sgt. Taylor Tribble, 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Public Affairs

Soldiers with the Kentucky CBRN Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) breech and break team use the hammer drill to extract a simulated victim from a rubble pile during an exercise evaluation at Camp Blanding, Fla., Jan. 10, 2019. The CERFP was tasked with responding to a ten kilo-ton nuclear explosion, establishing a support zone, searching the hot zone for victims, extracting the victims from the hot zone, decontaminating the victims and providing medical assistance. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Taylor Tribble)

CAMP BLANDING, Fla. — The Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear and Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP), sent more than 200 Kentucky National Guard Soldiers and Airmen to Camp Blanding, Fla., Jan. 7-10, 2019 for their certification evaluation.

The CERFP was tasked with responding to a ten kilo-ton nuclear explosion, establishing a support zone, searching the hot zone for victims, extracting the victims from the hot zone, decontaminating the victims and providing medical assistance. Once the Search and Extraction team goes in they assess the area and mark areas that specialty teams, including breech and break, lift and haul, and ropes, will be needed to extract certain victims.

“What I enjoy about CERFP is it’s local.  I get to help my neighbors and people in the community,” said Spc. William Scaggs, CERFP Decontamination Specialist.  The CERFP responds to situations within the United States and, many times, in the communities Soldiers live in.

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Camp Blanding, located 35 miles southeast of Jacksonville, Florida is a 73,000 acre training center home to training sites for both Florida Army and Air National Guard.  Kentucky CERFP Guardsmen used a portion of the training site to simulate the disaster as part of the unit’s exercise evaluation (EXEVAL) which is required every three years.

Sgt. Johnathan Harris, assistant team leader to the ropes team, emphasized the importance of safety when assisting victims in this type of situation.  “As important as it is to help everyone you can, you also need to make sure you take care of yourself and your team.”

Once extracted, victims are sorted into ambulatory and non-ambulatory and sent through the decontamination lines.  Once washed and decontaminated, victims are greeted by the Air National Guard medical teams to be assessed and treated.

On evaluation day, there were live role players as well as mannequins that were staged in the hot zone and around the rubble pile, which simulated a fallen structure. This gave the CERFP a realistic mission and made them think on their feet.  Each live role player had a simulated injury and a story line they were supposed to follow.

“I think it’s important as a first responder to know how to respond to different cultures, different needs, and different individuals,” said Jennifer Tozzo, a victim roll player and civilian first responder. “Being a role player also helps the victims to be able to respond better to medical personnel should something happen.” Tozzo brought her service dog with her to train the decontamination line on how to react to that type of situation.  She also knows sign language and used that in one of the scenarios.

“Our EXEVAL couldn’t have gone better,” said Lt. Col. Jessicah Garrett, CERFP Commander. “We were successful because of the dedication of our Soldiers and Airmen have to Kentucky and to the mission. I am so proud of each individual on our team.”