Hawaii National Guard maintains readiness through combined training

A member of Hawaii National Guard’s search and extraction team performs high angle rescue out of a window during the Combined Training Exercise at Kalaeloa, July 18.

Story and photo by Tech. Sgt. Andrew Jackson

State of Hawaii, DoD Public Affairs

In the event of a natural or human-caused disaster, the Hawaii National Guard has a unit of Soldiers and Airmen who are ready to respond. If city and county authorities’ resources are unable to respond to a large-scale event in the islands they would request support from the Hawaii National Guard.

The Guard would then activate their Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) team and send them to respond. The rescue unit, comprised of Soldiers and Airmen who have volunteered for this additional duty, could be on-site and assisting in operations aimed at diminishing human suffering within two hours. It is this type of response that over 200 Soldiers and Airmen recently practiced during their biannual combined training exercise.

“Our goal with the training here is to ensure we can get a good patient through-put during an event,” said Maj. James Kanoholani, commander, HING CERFP. “We can’t train during our regular drill, or annual training so this exercise gives us the opportunity to train the new soldiers and refresh those who have been here a while.”

Disasters rarely happen close to facilities where victims can be treated. The CERFP team has a fleet of trucks and trailers, each meticulously packed with all the supplies they will need to respond, including the temporary structures in which they operate out of. These trucks and trailers can be loaded on an air transport and flown to the neighbor islands as well.

A key aspect of the HING CERFP is that for most the members of this specialized unit is a second job or additional duty. They are still required to stay proficient and up to date in their primary duty at their home unit. Training in their CERFP responsibilities must be accomplished separately. The Combined Training Exercise which is held twice a year is how the Soldiers and Airmen get the experience and training in their role in a response to a natural or human caused disaster.

Throughout the footprint of the disaster response effort there are many specialties represented. At a disaster, site search and extraction Soldiers, provide rope rescue, collapsed structure shoring, breaching and breaking, while rescue Airmen provide emergency medical treatment. The disaster victims if needed are then transported to the treatment site where they are triaged, decontaminated, and treated medically to stabilize the victims in preparation for release or transport to hospitals. There are also Airmen on-site who provide casualty collection services. All the movement and operations are carefully coordinated in the command and control tent. Communications services are provided by an Air Guard joint incident site communications capability package that provides cell and internet services for miles around the disaster site.

Active duty Airmen and Marines who specialize in chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear operations toured the site on the final day of the field training. This provided an opportunity for the HING CERFP unit to grow their network on the islands.

The disaster victims were played by actors who were made up in moulage makeup to simulate their injuries. They played their part by wailing, screaming and sometimes wandering off to give the rescuers experience dealing with actual humans victims. This disaster was created as an exercise but the rescue Soldiers and Airmen of the HING’s CERFP team are ready to respond to help the state and its residents recover.

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Category: News