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NEWS | Jan. 31, 2024

Virginia Guard Soldiers, Airmen Train on Emergency Response

By Spc. Ericka Gillespie, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

FORT BARFOOT, Va. – Virginia National Guard members of the 34th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package conducted a collective training event Jan. 5-7 to instruct their newest Soldiers and Airmen on the basics of incident management and emergency response.

The CERFP elements reacted to multiple mock scenarios, including search and extraction, decontamination, medical support and fatality management, as a winter storm moved through the area.

“There are six elements, and today, five out of the six elements that are here will each individually work on their Training and Evaluation Outlines,” said Capt. Allison Smith, the 34th CERFP’s operations officer. “When each individual element is prepared, this allows all the elements to come together and work together as a team.”

The 34th CERFP was authorized in 2006 and validated for the fifth time in 2017. It comprises Virginia and District of Columbia Guardsmen from multiple units.

“We have a representative from each element come together here at command and control to learn the computer system that we all use as a whole,” said Smith. “This allows the process of all the elements to work smoothly together even on the technical side.”

The Joint Incident Site Communications Capability systems provide an array of communications options to a variety of users, including wireless and wired internet connectivity, uplink to satellites, telephone service, and many more communications capabilities, as well as radio connections to multiple frequencies between local, state and federal agencies.

“On drill weekends, we set up the JISCC to run updates, test the network, and make sure everything is operational. This allows us to be prepared to respond accordingly for when we integrate with the CERFP or get called upon for hurricane response or other natural disasters,” said 2nd Lt. Wesley Michaux.

Soldiers and Airmen continued training and rotated stations during search and extraction training.

“We’re going over donning of the hazmat suit, the patient packaging station, shoring review, technical rope rescuing missions, and lastly a general overview of how the CERFP and S&E component work together to support FEMA and other nationwide resources,” said 1st Lt. Patrick McWilliams with the 237th Engineer Company, 276th Engineer Battalion.

Search and extraction training equips Soldiers and Airmen to conduct rescues. These operations may include rope rescue, extraction in a confined space, breaking and breaching, lifting and hauling, shoring, structural collapse search, providing lifesaving medical stabilization, and removing and disposing of hazardous waste or materials.

“I hope to be able to learn and gain the necessary skills from CTE search and extraction training today, to be able to be more prepared mentally and ready physically to help people,” said Spc. Victoria Shaw.
The CERFP is designed to deploy within six hours of notification using a phased deployment. They can integrate with or augment first responder teams or operate independently.



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