by Tech. Sgt. Amber Monio
8/27/2015 - SALT LAKE CITY -- Several
Utah Air National Guardsmen with the 151st Medical Group participated
in a multi-agency medical evacuation training exercise Aug. 16, near the
Beaver Ponds in Utah's Farmington Canyon.
The scenario was a response exercise for a downed commuter plane with an
unknown number of casualties and civilian medical air transport
resources unable to deploy due to the location of the incident.
The 151st MG's CERFP search and extraction team and the Utah Army
National Guard's Company C, 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation Regiment was
called-in to help Davis County Search and Rescue to locate the victims.
CERFP is also known as Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and
High-Yield Explosive Enhanced Response Force Package, which combines
151st MG personnel with Army National Guard members to respond to
situation that civilian first responders are not equipped to handle.
"It's good for us to get the interoperability between different agencies
and civilian agencies so that we can see how they work, they can see
how we work, and it gives us a little bit of exposure to other ways of
doing things," said Air Force Master Sgt. Chet Showalter,
noncommissioned officer in charge of the CERFP's search and extraction
According to Senior Airman Erik Bornemeier, CERFP training manager and
Davis County Search and Rescue commander, the exercise also served as a
proof of concept where the intent was to showcase and demonstrate to
local and state government political entities the abilities of emergency
medical services and the rescue resources that are available in Utah.
"The goal was to show that the CERFP's search and extraction element can
be 'Micro' deployable in the event of an emergency in the region
without calling up the entire CERFP." said Bornemeier. "What we're
trying to do today is show that we do have the capability to deploy
quickly and in a smaller element that will cost the state of Utah less
money, be able to save more lives, and to mitigate pain and suffering
for citizens in the state."
During the exercise the various agencies were challenged to effectively
utilize Incident Command protocols and to work together to extract
simulated critically injured patients using the hoisting system of an
Army UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter so they could be transported to a higher
level of care.
"The best thing about the UH-60 is that it is one of the most versatile
aircrafts," said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Brady Cloward, a pilot with the
171st. "It's no surprise that Utah is a big outdoor recreational area
so there is a ton of search and rescue that's always called each year,
and the fact that we can do our job in some of these confined areas is a
huge asset for the state."
According to Army Capt. Penny McCarthy, 1st battalion medevac operations
officer, these types of exercises and similar real-world incidents are
further validating the need for UH-60s in the state.
"We certainly don't want to take away from civilian agencies'
capabilities; however, we do recognize that there is a niche that we
fill under night vision goggles and our hoisting capability in
particular, or at high-altitude where other aircraft may not be able to
get into," said McCarthy. "Those are areas where we see ourselves
excelling because we simply have capabilities that other organizations
may not have."
A similar exercise is currently being planned for early 2016, which will
test the personnel and their resources in a different scenario and
under different weather conditions.
"The fact that we're finally getting our names out there and that people
are realizing that we're here and that we are way excited to do the job
is huge for us," said Cloward. "This is what we live for, this is our