By Sgt. Michael BaltzAugust 1, 2018
CAMP SPRINGFIELD, St Kitts & Nevis - In support of the State Partnership Program (SPP), the Florida National Guard (FLNG) looks to strengthen its partnership with St. Kitts and Nevis during a four-day mission by exchanging knowledge and skills on search and extraction operations.
With the SPP, each state is tasked with being paired with a foreign country, and the FLNG is partnered with many of its neighbors in the Caribbean. This mission will mark the second time FLNG members step foot on the island of St. Kitts within the past three years, which is well known for its beautiful beaches with crystal blue water.
"The purpose of the State Partnership Program is to share information with our partners in the Caribbean, and in order to help them out in a catastrophic event," said. Sgt. 1st Class Alden C. Morrow, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of the FLNG Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (C-ERFP).
In response to catastrophic events, the C-ERFP locates and extracts victims from dangerous and contaminated environments. During this week, FLNG's four-person team will provide instruction to members of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defense Force, National Emergency Management Agency, and fire department on vehicle extraction, rope rescue, wide area search and collapsed structure rescue and stabilization.
"Our main focus in St. Kitts is to go make sure their response agencies have the capabilities they need in order to have successful missions," said Staff Sgt. Jose J. Palacios, search and extraction lead non-commissioned officer of the 868th Engineer Company. "We are going to teach them about what we do, and give them tools they could use."
Like members of the FLNG, most of the response agencies in St. Kitts and Nevis are familiar with the hurricane season and the training is tailored to enhance these types of emergency response operations.
"We should get the most out of [the FLNG] being here," said Cpt. Kayode Peter Sutton, commander of Camp Springfield for the St. Kitts and Nevis National Defense Forces. "We know the hurricanes will come, and we need to prepare for it the best we can. If just one more life is saved, this training will be worth it."
As the relationship is mutually beneficially, the FLNG Soldiers will also aim to improve processes for those back at home.
"We are all in the same business of saving lives," said Sgt. 1st Class Robby E. Creech, member of FLNG's C-ERFP. "We might be able to take something we do, and add something [they] do and that could make all the difference."
This mission is just the beginning for these Soldiers, as they will continue the SPP mission in Curacao next week with similar objectives.
The 868th Engineer Company is tasked with supporting and manning the C-ERFP and is based out of Live Oak, Fla.
Since 1991, the SPP successfully established relationships with 81 nations and 75 partnerships around the world.