DILI, Timor-Leste - Timorese military and civilian personnel joined Pacific Partnership 2019 (PP19) for a mass evacuation in a natural disaster (MEND) workshop in Dili, April 25.

First responders from the Timor-Leste Office of Civil Protection, the National Directorate of Disaster Risk, the National Police and fire department discussed disease mitigation, emergency pre-planning and mental health assistance principles and procedures with their PP19 military counterparts.

"The whole idea of this workshop is to have everyone know their clear roles and responsibilities during an emergency," said Wonesai Sithole, chief of mission for the International Organization for Migration. "We want to make sure that we have champions who can be the drivers of MEND in this country."

PP19 workshop participants interacted with their civilian counterparts during a group exercise involving a tsunami scenario, exchanging knowledge on how to best save lives in the event of an emergency.

"This experience will allow Timorese first responders to enhance their ability to coordinate disaster response efforts; that way their response time is faster," said Staff Sgt. Richard Trapp, the PP19 humanitarian assistance and disaster relief lead for Timor-Leste. "A timely response is critical to save lives."

The event is a precursor to an emergency response tabletop exercise that is planned for next week.

Pacific Partnership, now in its 14th iteration, is the largest annual multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission conducted in the Indo-Pacific. Each year, the mission team works collectively with host and partner nations to enhance regional interoperability and disaster response capabilities, increase stability and security in the region, and foster new and enduring friendships across the Indo-Pacific.