Military, Civilian Response Agencies Train for Super Bowl 2018
By Sgt. Sebastian Nemec
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
ST. PAUL, Minn. (Jan. 12, 2017) – Soldiers and Airmen with the Minnesota National Guard’s CBRN Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) and Twin Cities emergency service personnel with MN Task Force One endured single-digit temperatures at the WestRock paper mill in St. Paul, Minn., Jan. 7, 2017, for a joint training exercise.
The 203-person CERFP conducts command and control, search and extraction, decontamination and medical operations to assist civil authorities in providing disaster response. It is comprised of Soldiers from the 84th Troop Command, 682nd Engineer Battalion and 434th Chemical Company, and Airmen from the 133rd Airlift Wing Medical Group.
This was the second joint training exercise the CERFP and MN Task Force One have conducted together, said Maj. Ryan Cochran, the Deputy Commander of the Minnesota CERFP.
“You have to train as you fight [respond],” said Cochran.
The previous exercise in November and this one were intentionally done in cold weather environments to test the capabilities and limitations of the unit’s equipment in preparation for potential support during Super Bowl LII in 2018 at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
In the first part of the exercise, engineer Soldiers with the Search and Extraction Element were trained by firefighters with Task Force One on urban search and rescue. Inside WestRock, Soldiers donned red helmets, eye and ear protection, along with elbow and knee pads as they worked around dripping water and muddied floors while learning how to extract patients under fallen infrastructure and confined spaces.
These skills are perishable, said 1st Lt. Nicole Wiswell, an engineer officer and platoon leader with the 851th VEC. The Soldiers have to work on them every month along with their usual drill weekend duties. It is physically demanding training and everyone who is there wants to be there.Once the patients are extracted from the building, they are taken to a decontamination station run by Soldiers of the 434th Chemical Company. Soldiers in big yellow protection suits and air filtration masks wash the patients to clean off any chemical agents they may have come in contact with.
When the patients are coming from the “hot zone,” said Sergeant First Class. Paul Bramsen, the noncommissioned officer in charge of decontamination with the 434th Chemical Company, are cleared, they are considered to be in the “cold zone” and are transported to the medical area.
There, Airmen with the 133rd Airlift Wing Medical Group conduct triage and stabilization in the medical tent and prepare the patients for ambulance exchange where they are taken to a nearby hospital.
The work is strenuous, stressful and taxing, but also rewarding for the Soldiers and Airmen who are part of the unit.
“I love it,” Wiswell said. “I think it’s a great organization.”
The MN CERFP has a few more collective training events scheduled for 2017 to continue preparation for Superbowl 52.