NEWS | Sept. 9, 2011

New PEAK training prepares U.S., Honduran first responders

By Tech. Sgt. Matthew McGovern Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Joint Task Force-Bravo military and Honduran counterparts completed two weeks of training on new first responder assistance kits Sept. 9, at Soto Cano Air base and San Lorenzo, Honduras.

The equipment, called Pre-positioned Expeditionary Assistance Kits, or PEAK, is a modular system that provides potable water, communications and power generation, and information sharing to first responders immediately following a disaster event.

"The PEAK system was designed as a Building Partner Capacity program and the (advanced echelon team's) purpose here is to test that concept by training JTF-Bravo folks who will then train the Honduran folks from the humanitarian response unit," said Lt. Col. John Ferrell, PEAK Operations Manager.

The training included sling load operations where JTF-Bravo members practiced loading and unloading the equipment by helicopter. Familiarization training was then performed by both American and Honduran first responders followed by additional training with diaster relief agency and Honduran military members at San Lorenzo.

"We trained JTF-B personnel in two days and today the JTF-B members are training the Honduran folks and they're picking it up quite quickly," said Colonel Ferrell. "That proves this design is simple to operate, simple to set up, simple to maintain."

This strait foward portable kit allows U.S. Southern Command and other geographic commanders to support international relief organizations and host partner nations rapidly to assist in areas where certain services are not immediately available.

"The kit is meant for that first three days during which the big disaster response is put together," said Mr. Phil Stockdale, National Defense University. "The PEAK enables the first responders to gather information to guide the big response."

First responders have already used the equipment during emergencies in other parts of the world.

"The water module was used in the Philippines this year when there was an outbreak of cholera; 26 people died but after we deployed the kit, people stopped dying," Mr. Stockdale said. "There was one water unit and over seven thousand people had access to the water over a period of about a month. The Americans at Pacific Command trained the Armed Forces of the Philippines on the PEAK and they took it out to the village with the outbreak. It built the Philippine capacity to stop this outbreak."

Building partner nation's abilities is the idea behind the training in the CENTAM area.  

"This really supports all three JTF-Bravo lines of effort, the Counter Transnational Organized Crime line of effort, Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response and Building Partner Capacities," said Lt. Col. Keith Pritchard, Army Forces commander. "This (PEAK ) gives us an access point to build partnership capacity with any of the seven CENTAM countries that we go into to help them with this capability."