By Sgt. David C. Kirtland
241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
NEW ORLEANS – Louisiana National Guardsmen in the state’s special disaster-response team concluded a week of training with a final evaluation exercise in order to be certified by the Department of Defense, January 12-16, at the Camp Beauregard Range Complex in Pineville, Louisiana.
The Guardsmen successfully completed the training tasks required to achieve Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear and High Yield Explosive (CBRNE) – Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) validation according to DoD standards.
“The Louisiana CERFP evaluation is held every three years,” said Lt. Col. Jonathan Ballard, the exercise director. The evaluation is required in order for the team to maintain its Homeland Security and CBRNE certification, according to Ballard.
The CERFP trains continuously in order to remain proficient and ready to deploy within six hours to any location in Louisiana if called upon.
“CERFP teams are designed to be able to respond 365 days a year,” said Ballard. “To maintain that ability we conduct four training exercises a year … two large scales exercises and two smaller training sessions.”
Army and Air Guard assets designated as CERFP include a decontamination unit from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, located in Breaux Bridge, search and extraction unit from A Company, 256th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, New Roads, and the 159th Medical Group, Baton Rouge.
“It’s been an incredible success. Everyone is excited and highly motivated to be able to put hands on patients in real world scenarios,” said Lt. Col. Everett Bonner, a triage medic with 159th Medical Group.
The mission of CERFP is to respond to CBRNE incidents and assist local, state and federal agencies in conducting consequence management by providing capabilities to perform patient decontamination, emergency medical services and casualty search and extraction. The CERFP is a Department of Defense directive aimed at building up homeland defense with National Guard resources.