COLUMBUS, Ohio (4/23/2007) - The Ohio National Guard's radical new tool in the effort to protect the homefront, the Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and High-Yield Explosives (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package, or CERFP, recently conducted its first full-fledged training event February 24 through March 3.

The eight-day, first-of-its-kind training event was designed by the National Guard Bureau (NGB) and the Ohio National Guard, using Ohio's CERFP as a test unit. The Ohio unit, which was activated in July, is comprised of Soldiers and Airmen from the 155th Chemical Battalion, the 637th Chemical Company, the 1194th Engineer Company, the 121st Medical Group and the 437th Military Police Battalion.

"I'm honored that my company will be the first to receive this training, which should set the standard for years to follow in the field of mass casualty assistance," said Capt. Tonia McCurdy, commander of the Kettering-based 637th.

Comprised of both Army and Air Guardmembers, CERFPs provide essential medical, decontamination, and search and extraction support to civilian agencies in the event of a CBRNE incident.

A mobile training team organized by NGB and consisting of personnel from the Center for National Response (CNR), DuPont, and U.S. Army North, traveled to Rickenbacker Air National Guard base near Columbus in February to train the Ohio troops on National Incident Management System (NIMS) operations, hazardous material handling, medical and decontamination operations.

Training was broken down into two parts, classroom and "hands-on" equipment training. Classroom training included NIMS operations, which establishes standard incident management processes, protocols and procedures so that all responders can work together more effectively. NIMS focuses on command and management, preparedness, resource management, communications and information management, supporting technologies and ongoing management and maintenance.

In addition, the DuPont Corporation trained the Soldiers and Airmen in hazardous materials handling, including the use of personal protective equipment, identification of unknown materials and decontamination procedures.

Following classroom training, Lt. Col. Kimberly Sencindiver of the West Virginia Air National Guard, along with personnel from Army North, offered hands-on medical and decontamination training.

The decontamination team, comprised of Soldiers from the 637th and augmented by the Middletown-based 155th Chemical Battalion, received hands-on training on new deconamination equipment in the event of a mass casualty incident. By the final day of the training, the decontamination element had set up all of its three mass casualty lanes, taking up an entire airplane hanger. When fully operational, the three lanes can decontaminate more than 300 people per hour.

"Wow... I could never imagine how big it would really be until I witnessed it go up with my own two eyes," said an excited Sgt. Brijesh Amin of the 637th.

The medical element, made up of Airmen from several Ohio Air National Guard wings but primarily the Columbus-based 121st Medical Group, received training on the Small Portable Expeditionary Aeromedical Rapid Response (SPEARR) equipment, which one Airman claimed was better than the medical equipment he used in his job at a local hospital. The SPEARR is a medical disaster response force package used by the Air Force in the event of a manmade or natural disaster to triage and stabilize casualties and prepare them for further medical treatment.

The training allowed the CERFP, which is slated to become operational by September, to train together for the first time.

"Finally, the Soldiers and Airmen truly understand the concept of CERFP," McCurdy said.