• Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Roland Sturm
  • 181st Intelligence Wing

CAMP ATTERBURY JOINT MANEUVER TRAINING CENTER, Ind. -- Medics from the 181st Medical Group packed up their equipment and rolled out to support the 19th Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and high-yield Explosives Enhanced Response Force Package, known as a CERFP, during a pre-external evaluation sustainment year collective training event at Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center, Aug. 7-12 by bringing medical capabilities to the search and extraction element.

The team of medics from the 181st Intelligence Wing participated in the 19th CERFP SYCTE, embedding medics within search and extraction teams. The medics offer specialized training and capabilities, providing time-critical, lifesaving assistance during the initial search and extraction phase of disaster events on-site.

“We have a lot of specialized training, specifically to respond to natural disasters, terrorist events and things of that nature, so it gives us a unique skillset that exists outside of the civilian sector, to include CBRNE environment,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Cody Eslick, a Terre Haute native who serves as the senior medic in the 19th CERFP. “That's what makes our unit special. We can operate in that environment and save lives.”

Search and extraction teams are operated by Army National Guard units and are qualified in specialized rescuer skill sets such as training in rope rescue to include lifting and loading, confined space operations and structural collapse techniques. The Air National Guard brings medical capabilities to the teams, embedding medics who train in the same rescuer skills while being qualified to provide life-saving medical treatments on site.

“In this specific cell, we operate a search and extraction team that integrates with Army fire teams from anything from high-angle ropes rescue to breaching, breaking, search and extraction, and recon missions,” said Eslick. “We have medics that integrate with each Army fire team. They take care of not only patients but also their Army counterparts.”

Aside from their proficiency in their medical and rescue skills, search and extraction medics are expected to be proficient even when working long hours in full hazardous materials suits and masks.

“You can see us out here in the chem suits with the gas masks,” said Air Force Staff Sgt. Albert White, an Indianapolis local who serves as a search and extraction medic. “It's the CERFP. That's it. There's not another unit out there waiting to come in in the event that sarin gas goes over an entire city [or] in the event that VX (nerve agent) goes off over an entire city. There's not another force equipped at the level that we are to handle that specific thing.”

Indeed, that specialized capability is what enables the airmen from the 181st Medical Group to perform under pressure when responding to various domestic response scenarios to protect the local community, state and natio