July 26, 2011

CERFP University teaches WMD basics

By Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen      
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT PICKETT, Va. — The Virginia National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, or CERFP (pronounced "surf-p"), trained their newest Soldiers and Airmen on the basics of being a member of the incident response team during their annual training at Fort Pickett July 17-23 during what is being called CERFP University.


A Soldier tests an Airman for radiation during the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package University, or CERFP-U, at Fort Pickett July 20. As members of the CERFP, the Soldiers and Airmen will be required to be proficient on several radiation detection devices. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

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The nearly 60 Soldiers and Airmen in the joint incident response unit spent their week learning the basics of what it takes to be a member of the CERFP by gaining various Occupational Safety & Health Administration and Virginia Department of Emergency Management certifications, learning how to operate hazardous material detection equipment and how to properly wear the hazardous material protection suits.

“The point of the CERFP University is to bring in new members of  the CERFP who need to be trained to the basic level,” Air Force Master Sgt. William Morey, search and extraction instructor. “The big thing we do here is the hazardous operations class. That’s four days of the week they are here. Then they get the hands on and familiarization training for all the equipment that we use.”

The program, which is the only CERFP-U in the nation, takes the individual members of the CERFP and trains them to integrate seamlessly in to the teams. The program is designed to take a service member with no prior CERFP training and integrate them seamlessly into the unit while providing them with all the necessary certifications required.

“The CERFP University process for Virginia set us apart from a lot of the other states and that’s because we have our one stop shop,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Leon Joyal, training program manager, “We have CERFP 101; we have CERFP basic training. We can take anybody off of the street whether they’re a Soldier, an Airmen, a Coast Guard, a Marine or Sailor and we can bring them in for five or six days and we can actually train them to be a viable CERFP team member, a responder able to respond to any weapons of mass destruction incident.”

Soldiers and Airmen of the CERFP enrolled in the CERFP-U are given the best training the commonwealth has to offer in their chosen career fields and are being taught by instructors with years of experience under their belts who have been validated through years of training and exercises at the state and national levels.

“We have three years of experience at doing this and we better our process each time. Our process is tried and true,” said Joyal. “We haven’t had anyone fail any of the required tests and we haven’t had anybody fail any of our internal tests, so I know the instructor staff is top-notch.

“We’re well trained and we’re ready to go. The Guardsmen and the Airmen of the CERFP are ready to roll.”

The CERFP can conduct tasks associated with incident management, search and rescue, mass decontamination, medical triage and treatment and fatality search and recovery. The force is made up of Soldiers and Airmen from units based in Petersburg, West Point, Rocky Mount and Langley Air Force Base as well as the D.C. National Guard.

Virginia's CERFP was authorized in June 2006 and is made up of approximately 250 Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen. The units making up Virginia's CERFP include:

  • The command and control and incident management team from the Petersburg-based 276th Engineer Battalion.
  • The mass casualty decontamination element from the Rocky Mount-based 229th Chemical Company
  • The search and extraction element from West Point-based 237th Engineer Company.
  • The mass casualty medical triage and treatment element from the 192d Medical Group, Virginia Air National Guard stationed at Langley Air Force Base.
  • The fatality search and remains recovery element from the 113th Service Squadron from the DC National Guard.

The concept is that when an incident occurs, Guard personnel of the CERFP are alerted through the Joint Force Headquarters - Virginia and mobilized on state active duty. If the incident is located within Virginia they would proceed to the incident when directed by the Joint Force Headquarters. If the incident is located outside of Virginia, the Joint Force Headquarters - Virginia would coordinate with the receiving state under the terms agreed to in the Emergency Mutual Aid Compact. After arriving at the incident site, the incident management team and element commanders coordinate with and support the local incident commander.

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