By Army Pfc. Lerone Simmons
133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
BUTLERVILLE, Ind. (5/31/2012) – Soldiers and Airmen assigned to the Kentucky National Guard's Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package can call themselves among the nation's best after an evaluation May 24 at the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center in Butlerville, Ind.
"The raters said we shattered all the CERFP records," said Maj. Joseph Whitt, deputy commander of the Kentucky CERFP. "We had multiple best practices that the (evaluators) said would be taught to all CERFPs nationwide," he said, adding that evaluators said the unit beat many records for site set up, search operations and medical set-ups and treatment.
A joint unit with members from both the Kentucky Air and Army National Guard, the CERFP must be ready to deploy within six hours of a large-scale chemical, explosive or biological incident to locate and extract victims, perform mass patient or casualty decontamination and treat and stabilize patients for evacuation.
The team was validated on its ability to perform those tasks by observer controller trainers from the Joint Interagency Training and Education Center.
"This is our culmination event and we wanted to be the best CERFP in the country," said Lt. Col. Joseph H. Gardner, commander of the Kentucky National Guard's Richmond-based 103rd Chemical Battalion, an element of the CERFP.
When responding to an incident, CERFP Soldiers and Airmen must prioritize and quickly react to the situation.
"We want them to have the skills necessary to correctly assess the situation, then safely rescue and transport all casualties," said Staff Sgt. Matthew Park, an observer controller trainer with the JITEC.
For Spc. Jason Woodruff, a litter bearer with the CERFP, the CERFP team opened the door for joint-training with his Air Guard counterparts, something that was a new experience for him.
"The more training exercises like this, the better we can react," he said.
The team received a "T" rating, for being trained in 16 collective tasks required to validate a CERFP mission, said Whitt.
The success of the team during its validation also impressed senior leaders from the Kentucky Guard.
"This is one of Kentucky's greatest assets that we will greatly benefit from in the years to come," said Command Sgt. Maj. Gregory D. Armstrong, senior enlisted advisor of the Kentucky Guard.