Volk Field, Wis. — Soldiers and Airmen of the Wisconsin Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package (CERF-P) conducted a collective training exercise for their bi-annual external evaluation at Volk Field Aug. 16-18.
The CERF-P, a group of Army and Air National Guard units that brings its capabilities together to form the unit, successfully validated its readiness to perform all of its key tasks – a significant accomplishment that demonstrates its readiness for a worst-case scenario.
The CERF-P is a tool available to incident commanders in Wisconsin and across the region that could respond to a variety of scenarios that include contaminated environments and collapsed structures.
External evaluations ensure that CERF-P’s are properly staffed, equipped, trained, and ready to respond.
Over the course of five days, the CERF-P executed a crawl, walk, run style of training. The first day was primarily for their dry set up which consisted of staging, occupying the footprint, and setting up the equipment.
“Without this training and evaluation, a lot of things would get missed,” said Sgt. 1st Class Nicholas Barna, a combat engineer with the 273rd Engineer Company. “A lot of little details like the delegation of duties need to get hammered out at the squad level because we change out so often.”
During the next two days, they walked through a full scale exercise that simulated a real world event. This year’s disaster simulation was a mustard gas attack within a city hall.
The Wisconsin CERF-P element was evaluated on the execution of their mission requirements by the West Virginia National Guard Army Interagency Training and Evaluation Center representatives.
The representatives documented their observations and corrections in their training evaluation and outline notebooks, which they used afterward to give the CERF-P both praise and room for improvement.
“This event helps us be able to show how well we’ve been training and it verifies what we’ve been doing throughout the past year and a half,” said Capt. Jeff Kohler, commander of search and extraction operations for the CERF-P. “In the end it gives us a validation that if a situation like this happens in real life, we’re trained and proficient in our tasks to perform as we need to in order to protect and save our community.”
The CERF-P is a joint unit made up of Wisconsin Army National Guard combat engineers from the Medford, Wisconsin-based 273rd Engineer Company, which forms the search and extraction element, the Whitewater, Wisconsin-based 457th Chemical Company, which forms the decontamination element, a command and control element from the Madison, Wisconsin-based 641st Troop Command Battalion as well as an Air National Guard contingent that consists of a medical element, a fatality search and recovery team, and communications element from Madison’s 115th Fighter Wing.