By Maj. Frank Howard 181st IW Executive Officer
HULMAN FIELD, Ind. - The 181st Intelligence Wing’s Medical Support Element of the CBRNE Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) deployed from Terre Haute, Ind., Oct. 6, 2012, to participate in a disaster response exercise hosted by Indiana University Health, Ball Memorial Hospital in Muncie, Ind. The 181st Intelligence Wing’s Medical Support Element, and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security, Task Force 6, participated in a natural disaster exercise involving a hospital suffering damage by a tornado.
The 19th CERFP is the joint Indiana National Guard’s Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhanced Response Force Package. Composed of Indiana National Guard airmen and soldiers, the unique disaster response force package’s mission is to come to the aid of the citizens of Indiana in the event of catastrophic disaster whether it is natural or a terrorist attack. “This exercise is the first time just the medical element has deployed,” according to 2nd Lt. Michael Deakins, a bio-environmental engineer with the 181st IW.
“The purpose of the exercise is train with state, county, and local agencies to increase our understanding of what we all bring to a disaster response,” said Capt. Leanna K. Edwards, medical element operations officer. “The exercise centers on response to a natural disaster, forcing first response organizations to deal with existing patients, as well as additional injured personnel.”
Task Force 6 covers 13 counties in Indiana and is responsible for responding to natural and manmade disasters that overwhelm local facilities. “Finding a place to bring patients in a disaster is the number one challenge. It’s nice to have a field hospital to take patients for first line triage before evacuating them to more distant facilities,” said Greg Michael, EMS element leader for District 6 Medical Task Force, when asked about the 181st IW.
Deploying from Terre Haute’s airport at Hulman Field, Ind, demonstrates one of the many capabilities of the 181st IW’s Medical Element. “The 181st plays a key role in CERFP because of its strategic location, infrastructure and well-maintained runways,” said 181st IW Commander Col. Bonte. “This mission showcases the Wing’s continued readiness and reliability in providing support to the state of Indiana in times of crisis.”