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Indiana Airmen bring medical skills to CERFP exercise

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Roland Sturm
  • 181st Intelligence Wing

Medical personnel from 181st Medical Group deployed to support the 19th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package, known as a CERFP, during a pre-external evaluation sustainment year collective training event at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Aug. 7-12 providing victim tracking and emergency aid.

The medical element of CERFP units falls under the responsibility of the Air National Guard. They deploy with CERFP units and erect tents to operate victim tracking and front-line medical support in times of emergency and natural disaster.

“We provide triage and treatment to be able to get casualties from the incident site to advanced care,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Laura Flood, a native of Bloomfield who serves as the 19th CERFP Detachment 1 medical element commander. “Normally we'd be activated after local resources have been exhausted, and usually CST (Civil Support Team) will have been involved by the time we arrive, so it tends to be to arrive on site.”

The CERFP medical element provides a stopgap for immediate, critical on-site care at a disaster or emergency location and local hospitals or emergency facilities.

“Our goal isn't to keep people here as if they would be like in a hospital setting or in an ICU,” said Flood. “What we want to do is stabilize them, and then we want to take them and get them to a level of advanced care. Most of the time, what we're going to be doing is ‘treat and street.’ We're going to get them stable, get them in an ambulance and get them to a hospital.”

Airmen within the CERFP have various specialties and training covering a large range of treatments required in disaster situations.

“We have physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians assistants [and] respiratory therapists. A lot of those people are all needed at once to help one critical patient,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Trent Morgan, a native of Cloverdale who serves as an emergency physician with the 19th CERFP and the footprint officer-in-charge for the exercise.

The 181st MDG participates in training with the 19th CERPF throughout the year to maintain qualification and proficiencies. During the training, they will be observed by evaluators for weak points, equipment functionality and position knowledge.

“It can feel frustrating to have to do these things every day, but is 100% necessary because if you practice something every single day you become an expert at it,” said Morgan. “Our team is fully functioning and ready to respond, so we're just waiting for the opportunity.”