California CERFP takes part In Vigilant Guard 2010 Guam
By Tech. Sgt. Charles Vaughn, 144th Fighter Wing
/ Published September 09, 2010
Fresno Air National Guard Base -- Nearly 100 members of the California Army and Air National Guard CERFP team joined forces with CERFP teams from FEMA region 9, local firefighters and other first responders to take part in Vigilant Guard Guam 2010 Aug 24 through 26.
"Vigilant Guard 10 Guam is a regional exercise which incorporates many capabilities and assets from multiple states and territories," said Lt. Col. Rob Swertfager the California CERFP medical operations officer. It is designed to foster working relationships between National Guard units and local first responders while also testing the Guam National Guard's reach-back capabilities as it calls on resources from other states in the region and the National Guard Bureau during a large-scale emergency.
CERFP is the Chemical, Biological, Nuclear, Radiological and high-yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package which incorporates search and extraction, decontamination, and medical capabilities along with a command and control element to pass communication on to the incident commander, explained Swertfager. It is a rapid response team responsible for quick reaction to not only a weapon of mass destruction incident or terrorist attack, but also to any potentially hazardous manmade or natural disasters.
CERFP teams are composed of 2/3 Army National Guard, handling the search and extraction, and decontamination, and 1/3 Air National Guard in charge medical capabilities.
"We are the bridge between the first responders in the local area and the follow-on Federal resources" added Maj. Chris Angle the operations officer for the Army portion of the California CERFP task force.
"We've learned very valuable lessons about what it takes to get logistical support and to do operations in the Pacific theater of operations," Angle said, "There are a lot of firsts going on out here right now."
Maj. Angle also explained that this was the first time any CERFP team has traveled military air to a OCONUS environment, consolidated with CERFP soldiers from three other states under one task force, and fielded a Fatality Search and Recovery Team (FSRT) at the same time.
"We're your weekend warriors out here training to protect our homeland and increase our nation's response capability in the event a manmade or natural disaster," said Swertfager," and we take that mission very seriously."