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News | Feb. 21, 2011

Emergency responders train together through COPECO

By Staff Sgt. Kimberly Rae Moore Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

A smorgasbord of uniforms, including one of Joint Task Force-Bravo, filled a classroom in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, as the diverse group participated in a first responders' course Feb. 16 and 17.

The group of 25 came together to prepare for how they will respond and work together should a disaster or crisis occur in Honduras.

According to Fernando Calderon, chief of operations, the goal of the Incident Command System (SCI) workshop is to integrate efforts to improve crisis and disaster response. The course aims to strengthen the knowledge of first responder organizations, such as fire departments, Red Cross, Armed Forces and National Police.

The training was conducted by experts from the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance Abroad of the United States Agency for International Development, under the coordination of the Permanent Commission of Contingencies (COPECO), which is the Honduran equivalent of the U.S.'s Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"Maintaining high transparency and good performance of public officials is a constant task, which involves all employees of the institution and has implicit commitment to the Honduran people," said Lisandro Rosales, COPECO commissioner.

The course itself is not a Honduran-specific class. The course is offered in 19 countries and in four languages.

"We are requested by different country officials who provide the location and coordinate participation," Mr. Calderon said. "We arrive with the identical language-relevant learning material and teach for two days The course is explained slowly and promotes participation throughout to use the knowledge of the participants in the lesson."

The structure is in four lessons; introduction, functions, resources and implementation. The group is taught the proper response then given simulations to test their skills.  The active participation of officials and employees in the workshop enables the accumulation of opinions and recommendations on functioning and operation, and to disseminate, analyze and understand the implementation of corporate internal control processes.

"Without the operation of a SCI, during an emergency, resources may be wasted, and there could be difficulty in controlling the scene of the disaster," said Mr. Calderon. "Chaos and more destruction are possible and injury or death is more likely. That is why the SCI aims for first response agencies to have a single incident action plan and clarity of goals."

Because of its geo-strategic location, Joint Task Force-Bravo provides the first US military response to natural disasters throughout the Central and South America.  JTF-Bravo is committed to full partnerships with Central American governments in training and missions to support security, stability and prosperity throughout the region.
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