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Nebraska National Guard perform CERFP training exercise

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Airmen from the 155th Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package search and extraction team, discuss patients found within a building collapse, Aug. 17, 2021, during a CERFP patient rescue and treatment exercise in Lincoln, Neb. The CERFP mission is to assist local incident commanders with the National Guard as the first military responders in either a state or a federal role. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Alexander D. Schriner)

LINCOLN AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. --

LINCOLN AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. — 53 Airmen of the 155th Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) conducted an exercise Aug. 26 - 27, 2021, that tested their ability to move in a convoy and then quickly set up and operate a field medical facility.

A few acres of green grass lay next to the Warskills Building at the Nebraska Air National Guard base. As the exercise kicked off, seven trucks and trailers rumbled into the field bringing equipment, suits, tents, and Air and Army National Guard members. The vacant area was quickly transformed into a tent cluster, temporary home to a bustling mobile medical facility that the CERFP team will operate until the simulated emergency is resolved.

Airman 1st Class Katlin Lawver, CERFP search and extract team, talked about the exercise scenario and all the moving factors.

“We really wanted to get our new members an actual look if we got activated as a unit,” Lawver said. “The scenario was a mass casualty incident created by a building collapse.”

CERFP’s mission is to provide immediate response capability to the governor including incident site search capability of damaged buildings, rescuing trapped casualties, providing decontamination, and performing medical triage, and initial treatment to stabilize patients for transport to medical facilities.

Throughout the exercise, all seven sections did their role, Lawver said.

“The search and extraction medics went out and sought to locate people that needed help,” Lawver said. “Hotzone triage triaged patients according to their wounds. Then our nurses and doctors assessed the patients to see who needed to be sent to the hospital.”

After explaining the exercise, Lawver went into the importance of the training.

“You get to see the protocols, what supplies are needed downrange and to be prepared mentally for the trauma you may encounter,” Lawver said. “It helps us come together as a cohesive team and understand the flow of how we would treat patients.”

Master Sgt. Robert Simon, Medical logistics NCO, also saw the value the exercise brings to personnel serving in the CERFP in addition to their regular duties with the 155th ARW.

“On the logistics side, it gives us a different scenario and figures out how to set up and approach,” Simon said. “It gives the wing the domestic operations capability to respond and set up a field hospital in 90 minutes.”

The CERFP team has the ability to respond within six hours to help local authorities and hit their standards of 90 minutes or less to set up.

The ability to respond at such short notice requires quick thinking with no time to hesitate, he said.

When looking at the overall picture, Simon said how incredible it is to be on the outside and watch the team do their thing.

“You have 50 people that don’t work together every day that come and set up a small mobile hospital,” Simon said. “It's just an amazing thing to watch and that’s just from being on the medical side of it.”

Lawver explained why she loves the medical field and feels she’s made for this job.

“It makes you think on your feet,” Lawver said. “We exercise different situations because in the real world you may never encounter the same situation twice.”

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