Maritime exercise readies 157 ARW CERFP team

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Mark Wyatt
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Members of the New England Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, or also known as the CERFP team, gathered to conduct a full scale exercise to increase readiness posture and facilitate improved catastrophic responses with multiagency partners here March 29.

The team deployed to the Naval Station to perform a reduced medical response with a smaller medical footprint that tested their ability to run maritime operations.

"The exercise scenario today is a biological plague on a cruise liner with about 1,500 passengers, we're going to simulate that using a Coast Guard boat," said Maj. Phillip Plourde N.H. Air National Guard CERFP Medical Element. "The mission is to extract and decontaminate all the effected passengers coming off the ship through several elements of the CERFP team."

Each functional area and element used the exercise to evaluate and familiarize themselves with their responsibility during a mass casualty event such as this.

"The mission here was for members of the medical element to conduct mass medical care and triage to injured patients," said Plourde.

For the 157th Medical Group personnel involved in the training, who as part of the scenario deployed trailers to the Naval Station on an Air Force C-130, the exercise was invaluable.

"While the 157th Medical Group is specifically medical, the team performs hot zone triage, cold zone triage and medical support as needed," said Plourde. "Collaborating with other agencies and CERFP teams makes this training so invaluable should the need to actually run this real-world."

The team exercised the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear, or CBRN, response capabilities for Federal Emergency Management Agency Region 1 with the Coast Guard.

Plourde also said the objective was to foster relationships with other CBRN agencies across New England.

"Right now we have a multi-service effort here for this scenario, we have the Coast Guard, Marines, Navy and Army and Air National Guard," said Plourde. "It's a good amount of coordination working with those different entities within the Department of Defense - it's about a six-month planning cycle to successfully execute an event of this size."

He added that the team also set out to successfully meet the CERFP medical vision of "Ready, reliable team able to save lives within six hours of our national's call."

While most of the main body of the team arrived March 28, tactical ADVON teams began arriving to the Naval Station March 26 to finalize the scenario.

Treatment priorities for the CERFP medical element are treatment of CERFP personnel, Joint Task Force, State response force personnel, casualties being processed and evacuated and others as directed or required.

Despite being required to exercise twice a year, Plourde said the teams exercises quarterly to remain proficient.

"The requirement is for twice a year, but we exercise quarterly to ensure that if called upon we're successful," he said.