Va. Air Guard conducts CERFP in Vigilant Guard exercise

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Johnisa B. Roberts
  • 192nd FW Public Affairs
More than 45 Airmen assigned to the 192nd Fighter Wing Medical Group participated in the three-day multi-state Vigilant Guard exercise to enhance their Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) training, at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa., May 13-15, 2014. This was the first time the Va. Air National Guard participated in this exercise with six other states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Approximately 2,500 participants from eight state National Guards, the National Guard Bureau, Northern Command, more than 20 state agencies, five federal agencies, and others reacted to simulated emergencies centered on terrorist threats, severe weather emergencies and infectious disease scenarios during the exercise, according to a release.

During the exercise, civilian volunteers acted as injured citizens for military personnel to search, rescue, decontaminate, evaluate and provide necessary medical treatment and transportation to medical facilities. This process is handled by the CERFP, which conducts tasks associated with incident management, urban search and rescue, mass casualty decontamination, medical triage and fatality recovery.

"Our package does downrange search and extraction of casualties that may be in collapsed structures or potentially contaminated areas," said Lt. Col. Jason Price, 192nd MDG CERFP medical commander. "We extract those patients, bring them through decontamination, and then pass them on to medical, where we do stabilization and prepare them for transport to the local medical facilities."

The 192nd MDG CERFP performed the medical triage and treatment by assembling four medical tents. The medical triage process works by taking the patients out of the decontamination and examining them to determine how they should be medically treated.

"Medical triage is performed on this mission and it's where our airmen will actually take patients out of the decontamination," said Price. "It's basically the ability to use resources, and look at who is the most and least critical patient and where you can do the most good with the resources you have."

After going through the decontamination process, the "patients" are brought to the Cold Zone triage tent, where a doctor assesses them and they are either sent to a treatment tent or a holding tent, said Senior Airman Monica Jensen, 192nd MDG House Services Management.

The two treatment tents are where more critical "patients" are stabilized, and the holding tent is where stable patients are kept until transportation to a local hospital is available.

This exercise provided more than a training opportunity for the 192nd MDG. Working with other units was also a learning experience as it provided better collaboration between military and state assets, said Price.

"For my first CERFP exercise, it's been great," said Airman 1st Class Cassandra Horwath, 192nd MDG medical admin. "I feel the unit has really bonded, we're a great team, and everyone is working really hard."

The Vigilant Guard exercise is held quarterly by U.S. Northern Command and is designed to evaluate and enhance the integration of local, state, and federal responders under one command structure, according to a release.