Brunswick, Maine –
Soldiers and Airmen of the Massachusetts National Guard joined with other National Guard units from across New England and special task forces formed by local firefighters under the Federal Emergency Management Agency during a regional training event at the Brunswick Naval Air Station here Nov. 6.
The training event continues the partnerships among state and federal agencies formed under the Homeland Response Force, which responds to disasters both natural and man-made with the CBRNE Enhanced Response Force-Package, or CERF-P. The CBRNE stands for the kinds of threats the CERF-P responds to such as chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and environmental hazards.
The CERF-P performs several functions that all focus on saving as many casualties from death and protecting as many unaffected civilians from harm as possible. These functions include search and extraction, decontamination, and medical care, as well as providing security personnel for these responders.
Massachusetts National Guard units trained for two straight days on 12-hour shifts with other National Guard units from across New England in a disaster scenario designed to simulate the multitude of challenges the CERF-P will face when deployed to an effected area.
Massachusetts Task Force 1, a team of firefighters from several local fire stations in Massachusetts formed under one banner by FEMA, joins the search and extraction teams formed by Soldiers and Airmen of Massachusetts National Guard units such as the 379th Engineer Company, the 179th and 180th Fire Detachments, and the 102nd Medical Group.
“A lot of the time we work separately… the big idea is getting the communication between all the agencies together,” said Pfc. Philip J. Tessier, a Soldier with the 179th/180th from Fall River, who also said the training would ensure the civilian and military firefighters can work together in the event of a real disaster.
The two agencies conducted scenarios ranging from lifting concrete slabs off a crushed vehicle with a survivor inside to climbing a damage building and freeing a survivor from the rubble on a stretcher. The scenarios were conducted on a specially designed training ground filled with piles of concrete rubble and complete with a three-story building that simulates a large, damaged structure with collapsed walls and busted floors that must be drilled and jackhammered through to rescue the civilians trapped inside.
Soldiers of the 272nd Chemical Co., performed their mission of decontaminating civilians and preparing them for medical care by the 102nd and 104th Medical Groups with the help of security personnel made up of Soldiers from the 102nd Infantry Regiment, Connecticut National Guard, who established checkpoints on roads and formed a perimeter around the decontamination site to prevent the spread of infection or radiation.