SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras (Aug. 10, 2014) -- Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element hosted a Pediatrics in Disasters or PEDS course to train Honduran physicians about the healthcare needs for children during disaster preparedness and emergency response.

The American Academy of Pediatrics course 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 here, Thursday through Saturday.

"As a pediatrician, we receive our trauma cases after stabilization and first response treatment have already been executed, and we continue to provide care with teams of nurses and our equipment in our fixed facilitates," said Dr. Nelson Penman, a pediatrician at Santa Rosa Copan Regional Hospital.

"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 [Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element] 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 to assist when natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina in the U.S., in 2005, or the earthquake in Haiti, in 2010, occur. Many different kinds of physicians took a leave of absence 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 to respond to those kinds of situations, and the PEDS course was developed.

"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 in response to the scenario, to save children who had gotten into a vehicle accident and hazardous gases were in the air.

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element, or 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, 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.

Page last updated Tue August 12th, 2014 at 07:16