NEW ORLEANS – After more than 198,000 hours of training, Louisiana National Guardsmen in the state’s special disaster response team completed the final evaluation exercise to be certified by the Department of Defense at the Camp Beauregard Range Complex in Pineville, April 16-20.
The LANG’s special disaster response team successfully completed the training tasks required to achieve Chemical, Biological, Radiological/Nuclear and High Yield Explosive (CBRNE) – Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) validation according to DoD standards.
“The Louisiana CERFP met all qualifications, required by them according to the Department of Defense and has been recommended for full validation by the Joint Inter-Agency Evaluation Team,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Messer, the exercise director for the JIET. “The Louisiana National Guard is now fully prepared to respond to a disaster in their FEMA [Federal Emergency Management Agency] region.”
Over the past several months, the LANG has undergone a series of individual and collective training exercises to certify its readiness as a CERFP. Once certification is complete, Governor Bobby Jindal will have more than 250 Guardsmen standing ready to deploy within six hours to any location in Louisiana.
“The Louisiana National Guard has never had the capability to provide a specialized rescue and decontamination agency,” said Messer. “Now with the help of CERFP, the Louisiana National Guard has the capability to arrive on a site and service about 200 people an hour.”
Army and Air Guard assets designated as CERFP include a decontamination unit from A Company, 2nd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, located in Breaux Bridge, search and extraction unit from A Company, 256th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, New Roads, and the 159th Medical Group, Baton Rouge.
“These guys have put in over 198,000 hours of training to become certified as a CERFP,” said Messer. “That’s time taken from their jobs, families and friends in efforts to protect this state.”
“With all the hours of training, my team and I have gained confidence in our ability to get the mission accomplished,” said Tech. Sgt. Craig Graham, a triage medic with 159th Medical Group.
The mission of CERFP is to respond to CBRNE incidents and assist local, state and federal agencies in conducting consequence management by providing capabilities to perform patient decontamination, emergency medical services and casualty search and extraction. The CERFP is a Department of Defense directive aimed at building up homeland defense with National Guard resources.