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News | May 7, 2014

JTF-Bravo Medical Element provides ATLS instructor course to Honduran doctors

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

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element hosted the American Society of Surgeon's Advanced Trauma Life Support Team to train and certify members of the Honduran chapter here, April 25-30, 2014.

The American Society of Surgeons comprised of instructors from Brazil, Colombia, Panama, and Costa Rica provided ATLS training to 25 Honduran physicians of which nine were certified as instructors. The training allows Honduras to train its future physicians in a standard of care well known around the world, making it the 70th country in the world to have its own chapter. The execution of the training on will standardize the triage assessment for physicians to mitigate the risk of losing a patient in the critical first hour of treatment.

Ten members of the Latin American and Caribbean Region Chapter of ATLS traveled to Soto Cano Air Base to train and oversee the start up of the Honduran chapter. Student instructors were evaluated in their abilities to teach the many facets of ATLS with time restraints, different student personalities, and being able to lecture as well as demonstrate the hands-on training needed to be certified. Transitioning from being the instructor, the evaluator, and a pupil during the rotations helped the participants understand the possible struggles their future students might come across with.

"The ability for Honduras to train and certify our physicians in ATLS is vital because our country has a high level of trauma daily. Currently, physicians have their own personal way in which they treat patients who have suffered from severe trauma related injuries. This training enables us to treat trauma with a standard that is recognized worldwide," said Dr. Fanny Navas, surgeon and chair for the Honduran chapter of ATLS.

The planning for this training started in 2004 between JTF-Bravo's Medical Element, the Latin American and Caribbean Region Chapter of ATLS, and the Honduran Surgical Society Trauma Committee. The United States Embassy Cooperation Offices, U.S. SOUTHCOM Surgeon's Office, the U.S. SOUTHCOM Humanitarian Assistance Program, and the 410th Contracting Support Brigade all assisted during funding approval.

ATLS is a historical marker in healthcare for Honduras as it improves the healthcare and it enables its self sustainability.

"The majority of physicians in my country have zero ATLS training. We have the responsibility to transmit the knowledge we have gained today and to train our current and future physicians, nurses, and residents. We are going to be agents of change in how we manage trauma as a country because of this course," said Honduran Dr. Cesar Bustillo, resident at Hospital Escuela Universitario, and certified ATLS instructor.

Nine certified Honduran physicians, in addition to working as medical professionals, now have the responsibility to train their colleagues and nurses across the country in a concise, systematic and standard trauma-treating method; a noble deed they are grateful for.

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.

For more information on ATLS, please visit