182nd Airlift Wing elements train in CERFP exercise

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Todd Pendleton
  • 182nd Airlift Wing
Airmen and soldiers of the Illinois National Guard's Chemical,  Biological, Nuclear, and High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) participated in exercise Tiger Strike at the Boone County Fire District training facility near Columbia, Mo. June 17. Airmen from the 182nd Medical Group, 182nd Force Support Squadron, and 264th Combat Communications Squadron demonstrated their roles in the overall CERFP response to a simulated disaster.

The medical element provides short duration, pre-hospital emergency  medical treatment during a response to a natural or man-made event. "Today we have 16 people down here with this exercise", said Lt. Col. Jonathan Sisson, Officer in Charge of the 182nd Medical Group CERFP element. "What we do in the process of the CERFPs job is to package the patients and victims that are coming off of the incident site for transportation to tertiary care...a hospital or some other medical service", Sisson added. The team works with decontamination and search and extraction teams to provide emergency triage, treatment, stabilization, and tracking prior to evacuation.  

Command and Control (C2) is another element in the CERFP, and the 264th Combat Communications Squadron (CBCS) is one of three Illinois Air National Guard units that operates a Joint Incident Site Communications Capability (JISCC) 6-person deployable package. "Our mission is to provide the communications to the C2 element, and to provide wireless services to the remote sites during the event", explained 1st Lt. Jason Sikorski, deployed CBCS Officer in Charge at Tiger Strike. Like the other elements, the JISCC is ready to respond to a pre-staged support request or deploy in a specified time period to integrate into the local Incident Command Structure."We have six designated individuals that have to be ready within six hours to report," Sikorski added.    

The third element provided to CERFP from Peoria is the Fatality Search and Recovery Team (FSRT).  The FSRT operates within the Incident Command (IC) designated area to actively search for and recover fatalities, which will be turned over to the IC for follow-on processing by state Medical Examiners or the FEMA Disaster Mortuary Operational Response Team.  FSRT Officer in Charge 2nd Lt. Maria Cochran spent the duration of the exercise in the C2 trailer, acting as a liaison between C2 staff and her FSRT team. "We're a package of eleven (personnel), we have two refrigerated trailers, and the purpose of our mission is to collect the remains. We can go in a hot (contaminated) zone or a cold (decontaminated) zone, so we are HAZMAT operations qualified," Cochran said.

Other CERFP elements operated by the Illinois Army National Guard at Tiger Strike included, Search and Extraction, and Mass Casualty Decontamination. Personnel assigned to those elements are also closely watched by the Medical element. "The other service that we provide is monitoring of those individuals on our team going in and out of the hot zone. We do pre-exposure vitals and post vitals. We monitor them every time they go in and out of the hot zone. That's real-world medicine every time, even when we are playing in exercises," Lt. Col. Sisson explained. As far as his observation of Tiger Strike, Sisson says "I think it's a good experience, all the way around."

Things will be getting busier for Sisson and his staff in the near future, as the Illinois National Guard plans to add an additional 24 positions to the CERFP medical element this coming October. The training for these new members, as well as those already on the team, don't just take place at exercise locations away from home station. "What we're trying to do here (at Tiger Strike), we've got a nucleus of the team we hope to have, and we've brought them down here. We've spent time the past couple of months during UTAs teaching them about patient tracking, teaching them about the equipment we have, how to load up that equipment, putting up the tents, taking down the tents, and getting everything packed up into the trailers so that we can be deployable as soon as we get done with an exercise". 

Upon the conclusion of Tiger Strike, the medical element, JISCC, and FSRT teams returned to Peoria, and their equipment and personnel are once again ready to respond should the call come in for their services.