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Minnesota National Guard
Community Helps Soldiers and Airmen Train in Practical Exercise

National Guard Soldiers and Airmen often train through any types of conditions or weather

However despite the rain and cold, over 200 civilian volunteers helped the Minnesota National Guard to train for a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and High Yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package (CERF-P) validation to come on August 25

CERF-P validation is important in times of natural disasters, industrial accidents or in times of crisis

"Like any National Guard assistance mission, we are ordered to duty by the Governor upon the request of a country sheriff or Class-A city mayor," said Lt Col Timothy Kojetin, 84th Troop Command Brigade Officer in Charge and the commander of the MN CERF-P

CERF-P consists of four different elements; command and control team, search and extraction team, decontamination team, medical team According to Lt Col Kojetin, not all elements will be needed for every emergency The CERF-P is modular and they will bring only what they need

Units attached to the CERF-P include the 850th Engineers based in Cambridge, the 434th Chemical Company based in Northfield, Minneapolis, Redwing, medical personnel from the 133rd Airlift Wing based in St Paul and 148th Fighter Wing based in Duluth and the Headquarters detachment of the 84th Troop Command based in Minneapolis The unit consists of 186, but had about 200 Soldiers and Airmen trained

United Way organized over 200 civilian volunteers to participate in the training exercise Some local companies encouraged participation by giving their employees a "˜day away' to volunteer in their communities

"Our company, every year, always does a project thought United Way," said Karen Wood of St Paul, Minn "They let us take the day to volunteer and they encouraged us to do it"

"For this exercise, they told us that we would be actors and actresses," said Wood "We did get an email saying that you should wear swimsuit and layers; but overall we really had no idea what we were getting into"

The volunteers gathered through the Salvation Army and United Way were enthusiastic, despite the wet, cold and rainy weather conditions

"They (volunteers) reported to the Minneapolis Armory and received training clothes and three makeup people gave them a variety of fake wounds and injuries," said Lt Col Kojetin They each received a casualty card with a personal story to be replicated or acted out during the exercise

The Minnesota CERF-P unit was evaluated in all main areas for all elements, said Lt Col Kojetin "We received a "T" or trained in every task Our search and extraction team completed their tasks in 1/3 the time available with nearly flawless results We were extremely thrilled with our successes and so were our evaluators"

Not only was the morale of the Soldiers and Airmen was high, but the civilian volunteers remained enthusiastic despite the weather and long hours

"We started at 7am," said Chad Liberty of Stillwater, MN " I knew we would be helping simulate a disaster and I was happy that I could have the opportunity to help the National Guard out"

"The most I heard someone going through the line they went through six or seven times," said John Rooney, a United Way representative "People wanted to experience both the ambulatory and non ambulatory types of treatment," said Rooney

According to Lt Col Kojetin, the Minnesota CERF-P team will now be able to be used to assist civilian first-responders as required They could respond to any emergency in our region or back-up another CERFP anywhere in the country

"It makes me feel safer that we have a certain group of people that are certified in this kind disaster training," said Wood

Sgt Lynette R Hoke
27 Aug, 2007

Aug. 23, CERF-P Training Exercise photo gallery

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