Nevada Guard catastrophe response team passes final test
Tech. Sgt. Eric Ritter 152nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
LAS VEGAS – Their final test wasn’t easy, but the Airmen and Soldiers in the Nevada Guard’s large-scale catastrophe rescue, decontamination, and evacuation unit passed their final evaluation here this week to become an official resource in the nation’s catastrophe-response arsenal.
The unit is officially known as the Chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or explosive enhanced response force package but it widely referred to as the CERF-P team.
The CERF-P unit features 180 Airmen and Soldiers specially trained to provide assistance to local, state and federal authorities in the wake of a natural disaster or catastrophe.
The final test of the team began at Nellis Air Force Base when the unit was called to respond to a simulated train derailment that included a mustard gas leak. The unit was evaluated in a number of ways including response time and victim-stabilization time.
With the simulated mustard gas leaking, the unit quickly set up a small tent city that evaluated and treated simulated victims.
The CERF-P was given only 90 minutes to erect the tent city and triage the chemical-spill victims. The exercise scenario included 1,900 people affected by the simulated mustard-gas exposure and simulated building collapses.
Local residents participated in the exercise and primarily played the roles of injured citizens. Some of the role-playing victims formed angry and disoriented groups that forced CERF-P Guardsmen in protective suits and masks to initiate crowd-control techniques.
During the exercise, the CERF-P displayed its portable hospital capabilities and its specialized staff that included dozens of engineers equipped with tools for cutting wood, metal and concrete. Other engineering Soldiers and Airmen stabilized unsteady structures.
The unit had no trouble coming within its allotted time.
“We easily met our time requirements,” said 152nd Airlift Wing Medical Group Commander Col. Don Delporto. “We’ve been preparing for this for exercise for quite a while and were ready.”
Delporto said the team of 180 Guardsmen is now certified and is available to respond to any situation at any time to assist first responders. There are now 26 certified CERFP units nationwide.