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NEWS | June 3, 2024

Illinois Guard Completes Emergency Response Training

By Cpl. Justin Malone, Joint Force Headquarters - Illinois National Guard Public Affairs

SPARTA, Ill. - The Illinois Army and Air National Guard completed a comprehensive chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive enhanced response force package training exercise May 5, enhancing the readiness of CERFP units.

CERFP comprises five operational elements staffed by personnel from established National Guard units. Elements include incident site searches of collapsed buildings and structures, rescuing trapped casualties, mass decontamination, medical triage and initial treatment to stabilize patients for transport to medical facilities, and the recovery of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incident fatalities.

“The mission increased in difficulty as the exercise went on,” said Sgt. 1st Class Paul Bond, assistant operations noncommissioned officer of the Illinois Army National Guard’s 44th Chemical Battalion. “It gave us the opportunity to crawl, walk, run. I had the chance to learn from others and teach the younger joes. This was a good experience, and we were able to function with confidence.”

Illinois Air Force National Guard Capt. Travis Wilkinson, the officer in charge of the Fatality Search and Recovery Team, said exercises are important to maintain readiness.

“A lot of the skills are perishable, and if you don’t get that muscle memory back, should the call come and we have to respond to a hurricane, tornado, or a man-made event, we want to be able to be lockstep together as a joint force from the Army and Air Force side.”

Participants said the four-day exercise enhanced their ability to respond to real emergencies.

“Experiences like this are incredibly important for operational readiness,” said Army 1st lt. Andrew Martin, protection branch chief and safety officer working with command and control. “Without this training, I would not have been nearly as prepared as I needed to be to perform these types of tasks in the real world. I showed up brand new but by the end of the exercise, I feel like I have a really good handle on things.”



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