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News | April 9, 2008

Honduras, JTF-Bravo medical professionals gather, share skills

By Tech Sgt. William Farrow Joint Task Force-Bravo public affairs

More than 35 Honduran doctors, nurses and emergency medical personnel converged at Hospital Militar Luis Alonso Discua for an exchange of information with Joint Task Force-Bravo medical personnel.

During the exchange, U.S. personnel explained emergency protocol that may assist the Hondurans with creating standardized emergency guidelines.

Currently, Honduran emergency medical guidelines follow emergency reaction protocol and policy set through each Honduran hospital.

However, Maj. Regina Paden, Joint Task Force-Bravo medical element chief of clinical services, said the Honduran medical community realizes uniform protocol is crucial for time-sensitive emergency situations.

"The information they're gathering now will determine what works best for them," she said. "The more they are all reading off the same page, the more lives will be saved in the future."

Honduran doctors, nurses, emergency technicians and ambulance drivers from several public and private hospitals in the Tegucigalpa attended the exchange.

Once the Hondurans sort through the information and decide what works best, they will begin instituting certain procedures nationally, Major Paden said. The hospital staffs will then train personnel from other Honduran hospitals, exponentially increasing uniformity in emergency medical procedures.

"They are very interested in American emergency operations in both the military and civilian communities, so we provide them with information relating to how we do business and we explain what works best for us," she said.

Major Paden said the attendees were also interested in the American's choices of equipment as well, since Tegucigalpa's Hospital Escuela recently received capability upgrades as Canada and the Republic of Korea each donated an ambulance.

"They're new ambulances, but they came to them pretty bare so they are asking us about what equipment we use in our ambulances and what equipment works best for us," said Army Staff Sgt. Erik Gonzalez, JTF-Bravo MEDEL emergency medical technician. "They're very proud of their new ambulances and want to purchase the best."

JTF-Bravo's 1-228th Aviation Regiment provided an aircraft for participants to practice safe delivery and recovery of patients via a MEDEVAC helicopter.

Major Paden said although Honduras has its own MEDEVAC capability to use when ambulances aren't feasible or can't respond in a timely manner, JTF-Bravo occasionally augments their MEDEVAC capability.

"We felt it was crucial for them to become familiar with our procedures and experience what it's like to work under noisy, rotating helicopter blades," she said. "An educational environment like this is a perfect opportunity for people get a feel for what a real world MEDEVAC is like."

One participant said the MEDEVAC was a highlight of the day, but she also felt all the exchanges were valuable.

"I think the entire event was very useful for the Honduran personnel because although our medical personnel are qualified; we don't have a lot of experience in emergency transport because the infrastructure does not exist," said Dr. Maria Martha Matamoros Aguilar. "So today we gained knowledge, experience and technological familiarization with emergency transportation and operations which helps the Honduran personnel in charge of evacuations."