New England CERFP Receives Zero Discrepancies on Evaluation

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Victoria Nelson
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing

Victims screamed for medics on the scorching pavement at Joint Base Cape Cod in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, while Soldiers and Airmen responded during a Regional Collective Evaluation event, Aug. 14-17.

The realistic natural disaster scene was set up to test the skills and knowledge of the New England CERFP (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Force Package) Medical Element from the 157 Medical Group Detachment 1, as part of a four-day training and certification exercise.

The New England CERFP is a joint team with Airmen and Soldiers from the Maine, Rhode Island and New Hampshire National Guard.

“All of our training culminated on the external evaluation day,” said 1st Lt. Nicholas Carano, the medical plans officer with the 157th Medical Group.

The detachment was tested on their response to a radiological disaster and received flawless commendation.

“We responded from the hot zone, through the medical treatment tent, all the way to the simulated transfer of patients to medical facilities,” said Carano. “We had zero discrepancies, so 100 percent perfect for what we were required to execute.”

The purpose of the training was to prepare the joint detachment for a real-world event. The Guardsmen are provided the opportunity to work with role players, who act as victims would in a chemical, biological or radiological disaster.

“It's really important for us to do this because we get that muscle memory, and we get to test our critical thinking skills in a stressful environment,” said Senior Airman Rebecca Pincince, an aerospace medical technician with the 157th Medical Group.

On the day of the final evaluation, the sun rose without a cloud in the sky as the humidity on Joint Base Cape Cod spiked into the 90s. The first responders suited up in radiological protective gear and completed all tasks in the intense heat.

"It's been hot," laughed Pincince. "Very hot. Extremely hot. You have to remember to slow down and take your time. We're there to do the most good for the most people but you have to be careful not to gas yourself out too fast."

Each segment of the detachment--CBRN, medics, decontamination, search and extraction, and FSRT (fatality, search and recovery team)--was critiqued on their specific element of the total force response.

“The whole team did well,” said Carano. “That means that we continue to be certified to carry out our domestic operations mission and we are fully qualified by NGB to respond."

2nd Lt. Elizabeth St. Clair, a nurse with the 157th MDG, received patients after they had been triaged and sent through decontamination. St. Clair said she was glad for the opportunity to see the big picture.

“We get to see what we’re capable of with everyone,” she explained. “Setting up Wi-Fi, communications and tech decontamination is something we don't see on the medical side. Working with other Airmen and Soldiers shows you how important each part of the system is."

Capt. Kimberly Steinhagen, also a nurse with the 157th MDG, said the CERFP mission is a defining example of what makes the Air National Guard unique.

“We do this every day in our civilian lives, that's why we are always ready, always there," she said.

The team is capable of being fully operational anywhere in the U.S. and comprised of Airmen and Soldiers from all different backgrounds who are motivated to do their job well and learn from the process.

“That’s what serving in the Guard is all about," she said.