Uniting for CERFP
By Staff Sgt. Crystal Tyler, 141st ARW Public Affairs
/ Published July 08, 2008
5 - June 2008 --
Fort Lewis Army Base, Washington--
A joint exercise to prepare for large scale
disasters took place May 1 thru May 4 at the
Fort Lewis Leschi Town training area. The Air
and Army National Guard joined together in a
scenario to handle mass casualties and chemical
The four day exercise for Chemical Biological
Radioactive Nuclear Explosive Emergency
Response Force Package (CERFP) training,
involved over 180 Guard members. CERFP
provides medical, decontamination and search
and extraction services for a real world
situation. The teams are expected to be able to
deploy within six hours and complete set-up
on site within 90 minutes to relieve the first
responders of civil authorities.
Participants of the exercise also faced the
challenge of combining different groups to work
together as one team.
"It's an outstanding opportunity to coordinate
with the army to work together to the
same goal, the joint theatre is critical to the
mission." said Capt. Graham McGregor, Chief
Nurse, 141st Medical Group, Fairchild Air
The decontamination element was led by the
792nd Chemical Company, Longview,
Washington. They are the first point of contact
for the casualties after they are directed from
the event site. They conducted a casualty
collection area and provided decontamination
for patients before sending them to medical for
further evaluation. Members were trained over
150 man hours beyond their main duties for
Sgt. 1st class Kelvin L Gaut, Operations NCO
792nd Chemical Company said, "Our personnel
have very little experience, and we are very
pleased with the progress they have made. We
have a lot of new soldiers assigned to the unit
that have never dealt with CERFP operations
before and they are picking it up really well."
"One of our benchmarks is our set up time
and tear down time, if we have to re-establish
this site elsewhere time is of the essence,"
stated Sgt. Todd Smelcer, 792nd Chemical
Company. "Our standards are 90 minutes; we
are averaging around 45 minutes to set up and
35 minutes to tear down."
"We are all National Guard, we work for the
same boss. We have a great working relationship
with each other. We learn a lot from them
and they learn a lot from us," said Smelcer.
"The 141st medical group has a lot of
experience and will colaborate with us to give
us some ideas of what to look for when we
evaluate patients when they go through the
The 141st Medical Group was in charge of
the medical element. Members were part of the
triage team to asses the incoming casualties,
provide emergency treatment and provided a
holding area until patients could be transferred
to a hospital.
Capt. Terese Ulibarri, Medical Service
Officer, 141st ARW Medical Group stated,
"What I hope to gain from this training is to
make sure our people are trained and prepared
in the event we have to truly respond to this
type of incident."
"The tools that are needed to make this
exercise successful are cooperation from the
community, the leadership and all of the
support personnel required to pull something
like this off," said Capt. Ulibarri.
The Search and Evacuation teams consisted of
members from the 141st ARW Medical Group
and Civil Engineering. In a real world event
they are expected to work with civilian search
and rescue operations and coordinate victim
and casualty search, rescue and extraction.
"Our team works with the incident commander
(who is typically a civilian), the Civil
Support Team and local authorities," stated
Capt. Jason Kesler, 141st ARW Civil Engineering.
"For this exercise we are dealing with Air
and Army National Guard. We are the lead team
to come in and do our sweep and searches until
the main body arrives and then we transition
over to the federal teams"
"I'm really surprised how well the air force
and the army are able to come together and
work as one joint force on this exercise," said
Sgt. Gaut "The communication between the
two elements have been outstanding."