Soldiers, Airmen Conduct Nuclear Disaster Response Training


Soldiers from the 521st Troop Command Battalion of the Maine Army National Guard took part in a nuclear disaster response training exercise here, May 14-17.

A National Guard search and extraction team carries a dummy away from a collapsed structure as part of an exercise to test the New England Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Enhanced Response Package's (CERF-P) response to a CBRN event at Joint Base Cape Cod, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts May 16, 2018.
A National Guard search-and-extraction team carries a mannequin portraying a casualty as part of a nuclear disaster response exercise held at Joint Base Cape Cod, Mass., May 16, 2018. Army photo by Spc. Jarod Dye
A National Guard search and extraction team carries a dummy away from a collapsed structure as part of an exercise to test the New England Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) Enhanced Response Package's (CERF-P) response to a CBRN event at Joint Base Cape Cod, Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts May 16, 2018.
New England Soldiers
A National Guard search-and-extraction team carries a mannequin portraying a casualty as part of a nuclear disaster response exercise held at Joint Base Cape Cod, Mass., May 16, 2018. Army photo by Spc. Jarod Dye

The Maine guardsmen trained with hundreds of other National Guard soldiers and airmen from Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

To pass the training evaluation, the guardsmen had to first successfully travel to the disaster site and set up their search-and-extraction and decontamination teams.

They then were required to find, recover, transport, decontaminate and medically treat mock patients.

The soldiers and airmen participated in a CERFP training and certification exercise, which they must conduct every three years. CERFP stands for CBRN Enhanced Response Force Package and CBRN stands for chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear.

Certifying Disaster Response Teams

The exercise not only certifies the CERFP teams, but also enables them to work out any issues that might arise in a real disaster.

The Maine 521st Troop Command Battalion is responsible for command and control of the exercise. The team is responsible for overseeing the progress, communication, and operations of each subsidiary unit.

“They’re testing us on our proficiency with the factor of time,” said Army Maj. Michael Gary, the administrative officer for the 521st Troop Command Battalion, which is additionally tasked with the CERFP mission. “The most drastic purpose that we would be needed for would be a nuclear weapon.”

Gary cited the importance of joint training with local first responders, and Air National Guard and Army National Guard units from other states.

“When you get together with Air, Army and different units, you can unify to solve a problem,” he said. “It also brings us closer to the first responder community; one thing we always hear from our evaluators is how quick we are to come together, unify, problem solve and make connections.”

Some local citizens participated in the event as mock casualties that the CERFP teams could then recover and treat.