SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras –
Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element hosted the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Pediatrics in Disasters (PEDS) course to train Honduran pediatricians about the healthcare needs for children in disaster preparedness and emergency response. The course subjects included planning and triage for disaster scenarios, pediatric trauma treatment, toxic exposure, and incident control command procedures. Pediatricians from all over Honduras traveled to Soto Cano Air base to attend the course held August 7-9, 2014.
"As a pediatrician, we receive our trauma cases after stabilization and first response treatment has already been executed and we continue to provide care with teams of nurses and our equipment in our fixed facilitates. This training was completely different than what I am used to. I have never treated anyone as a first responder before. I am extremely grateful for JTF-Bravo, MEDEL, and the Honduran Pediatric Association for coordinating this course. Because of the training, the group of pediatricians that attended have a different understanding of first response healthcare," said Dr. Nelson Penman, a pediatrician at Santa Rosa Copan Regional Hospital.
The PEDS training was developed by the American Academy of Pediatrics because as natural disasters occurred, such as Hurricane Katrina in the United States in 2005 or the earthquake in Haiti in 2010, many different kinds of physicians took a leave of absences from their hospitals or private practices to travel to these locations to help in a volunteer capacity using their professional skills. However, many of the doctors were not trained in first response disaster relief healthcare resulting in an initial confusion on how to prioritize patients and where to set up a healthcare post. The need for such training was recognized in those events and conceptualized into the PEDS course.
"Here in Honduras, physicians are mostly hospital trained for medicine. We are not trained for first response healthcare. I feel that this training is needed in our country, it should be mandatory for pediatricians-all doctors. We tend to minimize the role of first responders. It has definitely changed my opinion. The role of the first responder is important and has many facets to it," said Penman.
The physicians attended lectures with hands-on training, visited the JTF-Bravo fire department to get some firsthand experience on body drags and litter carrying while wearing HAZMAT suits, and on the final day took part in scenario training. They had to put all the concepts together to save children who had gotten into a vehicle accident and hazardous gases were in the air.
Joint Task Force-Bravo's MEDEL is composed of 64 Army personnel who have come together from across the United States and have provided medical care to more than 8,000 people in Honduras over the last 12 months. MEDEL provides preventative medical care, wellness check-ups, dental care, preventative dental care, surgical care, and physical therapy through local partnerships in Comayagua, Tegucigalpa, and through local Medical Readiness Training Exercises (MEDRETES) which are carried out on a weekly basis. MEDEL hosts many training opportunities with the country of Honduras to build strong partnerships between both countries.