An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News | Aug. 7, 2014

JTF-Bravo Medical Element Hosts First ATLS Course for Honduras Chapter

By U.S. Army Sgt. Catherine Tharpe Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element hosted the first Advanced Trauma Life Support certification course taught by the Honduran chapter, August 1-4, 2014. The Honduran chapter is the 70th country chapter of the American College of Surgery's Program. Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) training was provided to 15 students, comprised of doctors and surgeons practicing in Honduras. This training was the first of its kind since the validation on April 25-30, 2014 and allows Honduras to train its physicians in a standard of care well known around the world.

Fourteen instructors certified in April, from the Honduran chapter, traveled to Soto Cano Air Base to train the students with additional support provided by Mrs. Grace Herrera, the international coordinator for region 14's ATLS program based out of Costa Rica. The training, consisting of lectures and hands-on training, standardizes the triage assessment of trauma patients and helps to mitigate the risk of losing a patient in the critical first hour of treatment. After the training, students must pass both a written exam and an evaluation of patient care scenarios to demonstrate their grasp of the key components of ATLS.

"ATLS training is very important to my country. You see it in the news every day; trauma is one of the major causes of injury, even death in Honduras. It is critical that every doctor and nurse receives this training so that we can provide our patients with a standard of trauma care for their survival," said Dr. Rafael Sierra, an ATLS instructor and a general surgeon at Social Welfare of Honduras.

This training is a historical marker in healthcare for the country of Honduras, launching the level of care exponentially and the beginning of all physicians being ATLS certified no matter where they practice in the country.

"The most challenging part of teaching this course is teaching a wide variety of physicians with different specialties a new concept, a standard concept. Because prior to ATLS, trauma treatment varied from doctor to doctor," said Dr. Ali Flores, an ATLS instructor and a neurosurgeon at Hospital Escuela in Tegucigalpa.

The training resulted in many physicians from across the country learning a concise and systematic method for trauma treatment and a betterment of healthcare in Honduras. The Honduran chapter will teach three ATLS classes a year. For more information on ATLS, please visit,

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.