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Wisconsin National Guard's CERFP ready for duty

CAMP DOUGLAS, Wis. -- The Wisconsin National Guard now has a certified resource to call upon in the event of a natural or man-made disaster in the state.

About 150 Soldiers and Airmen of Wisconsin's Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear High Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package, or CERFP, trained June 2-14 at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Camp Douglas, Wis., before earning the certification Friday (June 15).

Wisconsin is the 18th state to become CERFP certified.

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, was pleased with the certification.

"This mission is critical to our nation's homeland defense," Dunbar said. "Wisconsin was privileged to be entrusted with it. The results of this exercise evaluation validate the confidence National Guard Bureau and the U.S. Northern Command has in us, and I am proud of [unit commander] Maj. Rochelle Maier and the entire CERFP - what an incredible team."

The CERFP certification program tests Army and Air National Guard members on their ability to successfully complete rescue efforts after natural or man-made disasters occur.

"This certification means Wisconsin residents can rest at ease if a natural disaster strikes," said Army 1st Lt. Adam Puhl of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry. "The CERFP team has been trained to provide support when the civilian relief efforts are running out of resources and before the federal relief efforts step in."

More than 150 Guard members were divided into three teams: search and extraction, decontamination and medical.

"It's nice to see how well the teams have gelled together since day one," said Lt. Col. Jennifer Schmidt, CERFP chief nurse and a member of the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 115th Medical Group.

The teams were evaluated on how well they worked together in disaster-simulated scenarios.

The search and extraction team safely removed victims from the disaster zone. They worked in 40-minute work and rest cycles to prevent dehydration and exhaustion, Puhl said, and were challenged on their ability to communicate with the victims and each other.

"Once rescued, the victims were marked by different colored ribbons distinguishing ambulatory and non-ambulatory for the decontamination team," Puhl said.

The decontamination team worked quickly to ensure walking, non-walking and military personnel were properly sprayed down to keep contamination confined to the disaster zone, allowing medical personnel to treat victims in a clean environment.

The medical team was the last stop for the victims in the CERFP process. They provided the necessary treatment and checked vitals of everyone, including military personnel.

"The team demonstrated its abilities to move the victims through quickly and efficiently," Schmidt said. "Everyone knew their job and role throughout the process."
Under the 2010 reorganization of the Department of Defense's domestic CBRNE consequence management enterprise, initiated during the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review, the National Guard is to provide 10 homeland response forces - one for each FEMA district - as well as 17 total CERFP teams.

Wisconsin's CERFP team operates in FEMA Region 5, which includes Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana and Ohio.

Original content found here.
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