Nebraska National Guard performs CERFP training exercise
Airmen from the 155th Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package search and extraction team, discuss patients found within a building collapse, Aug. 27, 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. (Photo Credit: Airman 1st Class Alexander Schriner) VIEW ORIGINAL

LINCOLN AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. – Fifty-three members of the 155th Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) conducted an exercise Aug. 26-27 to test their ability to move in a convoy and quickly set up and operate a field medical facility.

Seven trucks and trailers drove onto a field at the Nebraska Air National Guard base, bringing equipment, suits, tents and Air and Army National Guard members. The vacant area was quickly transformed into a temporary home to a bustling mobile medical facility the CERFP team operated until they resolved a simulated emergency.

"We really wanted to get our new members an actual look if we got activated as a unit," Airman 1st Class Katlin Lawver said. "The scenario was a mass casualty incident created by a building collapse."

CERFP's mission is to be able to respond immediately, searching damaged buildings, rescuing people and providing decontamination, medical triage and 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. "Hot zone 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."

Lawver said the training is important.

"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 noncommissioned officer, 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."

He said the ability to respond on such short notice requires quick thinking with no time to hesitate.

When looking at the overall picture, Simon said it was incredible to watch team members 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 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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