DULUTH, Minn. — Soldiers and Airmen from the Minnesota and Wisconsin National Guard will be conducting a domestic response exercise with local first responders in Duluth and Superior, June 4-7.
Some of the training will be visible to the public and take place in public areas including the former Duluth Central High School, Piers B and D and Rice’s Point in Duluth and Hansen-Mueller Pier in Superior, Wisconsin. Many of the responders will be dressed in hazardous material suits while conducting this training. The public should not be alarmed.
“Exercises like these ensure that our National Guardsmen and local first responders can operate seamlessly as a team,” Maj. Kenneth Van Horn, the deputy commander of the Wisconsin Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear and high-yield explosive Enhanced Response Force Package (CERFP) said. “Training together now makes it much easier to react when a real event occurs. We’re grateful for the opportunity Superior and Duluth first responders have given us to train in a realistic and challenging environment.”
The exercise will involve two highly specialized National Guard units – the Minnesota and Wisconsin CERFP and the 54th and 55th Civil Support Teams — which train to be ready to respond to local and regional emergencies at the direction of state governors.
CERFP units provide Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) response capabilities including search and rescue operations for collapsed structures, mass casualty decontamination, fatality search and recovery and emergency medical triage and patient stabilization for transport to local medical facilities.
Civil Support Teams (CST) work with civil authorities at the direction of state governors to prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks involving weapons of mass destruction. The full-time response teams are capable of identifying CBRN agents and substances, assessing current and projected consequences and advising on response measures.
Other organizations involved in the exercise will include the Duluth Fire Department, Superior Fire Department and the U.S. Coast Guard. In total, nearly 500 Soldiers, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and approximately 50 local first responders will participate in the exercise.
The exercise will allow participants to practice skills in hazardous materials operations, urban search and rescue, mass casualty decontamination, medical triage, and command and control. Each National Guard unit is required to conduct regular, evaluated, exercises and training to ensure they meet readiness requirements.
“We provide a trained and ready asset to local responders in our states in the event of a disaster,” said Maj. Ryan Cochran, the deputy commander of the Minnesota CERFP. “Our ability to rapidly deploy on short notice is crucial to saving lives and mitigating damage.”
The Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs Office contributed to this report.