Aug. 10, 2009

Virginia National Guard special response force supports Surry Power Station exercise

By Maj. T. Theim, CERFP OIC
& Lt. Col. D. Magaldi, Virginia Air Guard Public Affairs

SURRY COUNTY, Va. — Four members from a specialized Virginia National Guard all-hazards response force participated in a mishap response exercise at the Surry Power Station on Aug. 4.

The force, dubbed CERFP – and pronounced “surf-p” – stands for CBRNE Enhanced Reaction Force Package.  And CBRNE – pronounced “See Bernie” – represents the wide range of incidents or mishaps that the team is trained to respond to: chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives. The CERFP’s mission is to assist local, state and federal agencies in conducting consequence management after a terrorist attack or other type of man-made or natural disaster by providing capabilities to conduct mass decontamination, emergency medical services and casualty/fatality search and rescue/extraction.

The CERFP members provided one of two field monitoring teams for VOPEX 2009 – a Virginia Operations Plan Exercise that alternates yearly between the Surry and North Anna power stations. VOPEX tests the ability of the station and state and local governments to respond to an incident at the station. The purpose of the exercise is to test the response capabilities of local, state and federal first responders during a simulated release of radioactive materials from a nuclear power plant.

The Virginia CERFP members, in conjunction with a field team from the Virginia Department of Health – Radiological Health Program, were required to take radiological measurements using detailed VDH protocols. Radiological data was forwarded to the Local Emergency Operations Facility and air samples were taken to the VDH mobile laboratory for analysis.  In a real situation, this information would be used to assist in determining the downwind dissemination of radiological materials to establish the extent of the release and if radioactive iodide was present, according to Major Terry Thiem, CERFP Officer in Charge.

“This was an excellent demonstration of how a small operational slice of our highly trained, 186-member CERFP team can be used to support our local and state first responders,” Thiem said. “Although not a traditional weapons of mass destruction event, the skills that our Soldiers and Airman learn for radiological monitoring for a terrorism incident are directly applicable to the monitoring required to support this type of incident at one of our nuclear power facilities.”

The 186-member CERFP is staffed by personnel from already established Army and Air National Guard units and is comprised of five elements: rescue search and extraction, decontamination, medical, fatality search and recovery and command and control.

The National Guard units currently assigned to the CERFP mission are shown below.


Unit Assigned

Command & Control

Battalion HQ, 1-111th Field Artillery, Va. Army National Guard


Alpha Battery of the 1-111th Field Artillery, Va. Army National Guard

Search & Extraction

203rd Red Horse Squadron, Va. Air National Guard


192nd Medical Group, Va. Air National Guard

Fatality Search and Recovery Team (FSRT)

113th Service Support Group, D.C. Air National Guard

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