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Missouri takes the lead with the HERF team

Members of the 139th Airlift Wing participate in the Missouri CERFP evaluation.

Members of the 139th Airlift Wing participate in the Missouri CERFP evaluation.

ST JOSEPH, Mo. -- Wing's medical Airmen support new response force.

Airmen here will be part of a reorganized homeland defense team that will provide direct support to four states during major disasters.

The Department of Defense (DoD) announced in July that the Missouri National Guard was one of 10 states to manage a new Homeland Emergency Readiness Response Force (HERF).

The 139th Airlift Wing will take a lead medical role in the 570-member HERF, which provides teams of medical, search and extraction, decontamination, security, and command and control specialists for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region VII.

Defense officials said the HERF is part of a "national reorganization of existing response teams."

That reorganization involves the wing's lead medial role in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High-yield Explosive (CBRNE) Enhance Response Force Package (CERFP).

Maj. Kimberly Smith, medical operations officer, explained that the state's existing 170-member CERFP will grow its mission to into the larger HERF.

"We are very happy to have this new mission," she said.

The number of medical specialists here remains the same.

"Those personnel are already trained and serving in the CERFP," said Smith.
Smith said the HERF mission is scheduled to bring them new equipment, which is "welcome news." They will also remodel their medical operations facility to handle the equipment.

A greater change from losing the state's CERFP and gaining a HERF involves the Missouri Army Guard's 70th Troop Command, with a higher-level command and control team, as well as the addition of a military police security team, said Smith.

By 2012, 10 HERFs in each FEMA region will be ready to respond in a major disaster with other homeland defense forces, including Civil Support Teams and CERFPs, as well as Guard, federal and civilian responders.