Prevention and Preparedness Assistance Pay Off Ahead of Potential Emergencies

Prevention and Preparedness Assistance Pay Off Ahead of Potential Emergencies

By Dialogo
November 10, 2014







Part of the U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) outreach efforts with Central and South American and Caribbean partner nations includes cooperative strategies such as the Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP) and the National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP).

SOUTHCOM’s HAP works year round to respond to crises and contingencies in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean in a three-step process of (1) building facilities, (2) training local authorities to properly manage disasters and (3) providing equipment to bolster each host nation’s own capacity to manage these disasters. HAP representatives work directly with partner nation government authorities to initially define their immediate needs and subsequently strengthen their ability to respond to humanitarian crises, natural and man-made disasters, and disease mitigation and prevention initiatives.

According to William I. Clark, Chief of SOUTHCOM’s Civil-Military Assistance Division, the program’s intent “is to partner with partner nations and build their capacity so that they are able to meet their own requirements, thereby reinforcing our relationship for cooperation as we all work together toward the common goal of alleviating human suffering.”

The Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid (OHDACA) appropriation supports the U.S. Secretary of Defense and Combatant Commanders’ security cooperation strategies to build indigenous capabilities and cooperative relationships with allies, friends, civil society, and potential partners. It provides funds to the Combatant Commanders’ Humanitarian Assistance activities in order to conduct a variety of projects under the three aforementioned steps, including refurbishing existent medical facilities, constructing school buildings, digging wells, improving sanitary facilities and training host country personnel in internally displaced person and refugee repatriation operations, as well as disaster relief and emergency response planning, all of which may be done in association with a military operation or exercise, according to the U.S. Department of State (DOS) site on Humanitarian Operations.

Clark further explains that the program carries out 45-50 projects per year in the Central and South American and Caribbean region alone. These varied efforts are designed so that civilian U.S. entities engage with host nation authorities with military oversight to enhance the capacities of the host nation and bolster their governance, thereby increasing the partner nation population’s confidence in their government.

In terms of emergency response planning, the efforts encompass providing technical aid and facilitating the construction of disaster relief warehouses, emergency operation centers, shelters and fire stations and sponsoring disaster preparedness and medical readiness training exercises (MEDRETES), seminars and conferences with the goal of improving the collective ability of the partner nations to respond quickly and effectively to disasters with U.S. help. “HAP attempts to improve the living conditions and enhance the legitimacy of partner nation governments by improving their capacity of providing essential services to their populations and become less reliant on international support when responding to disasters,” added Clark.

Health care-specific efforts, like the MEDRETEs and Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAP) are tailored according to the local authorities’ needs and conducted by small U.S. military medical teams in different partner nations multiple times a year. In addition to providing free medical treatments to thousands of people in various communities and attempting to improve the overall level of care of the host nation’s healthcare system, these training events also enhance the readiness of U.S. military medical forces.

For example, in March 2013, HAP assisted the Brazilian Air Force in procuring Cyanokits®, cyanide poisoning anecdotes, to the nation’s Health Ministry to treat hospitalized survivors of a deadly nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul state, who were exposed to cyanide gas released in the blaze that killed 236, mostly from inhaling the fumes, according to Reuters
.

More recently, in October 2014, HAP assisted El Salvador’s Ministry of Civil Defense and National System of Civil Protection and Disaster Mitigation and Prevention (Sistema Nacional de Protección Civil, Prevención y Mitigación de Desastres de El Salvador) with air search and rescue capabilities in support of the Humanitarian Rescue Unit’s (Unidad Humanitaria de Rescate) domestic and regional disaster response system. In order to enhance the collective civil-military disaster management response capability through improved readiness, response and recovery, HAP provided a helicopter rescue system and related maintenance training for two Salvadoran Air Force UH-1H helicopters that support the unit.

Currently, HAP is planning disease mitigation and prevention initiatives to support the U.S. government’s response to Ebola in West Africa. Their support to the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, as leading agencies of the effort, is in the form of providing personal protective equipment to the regional response teams that are being identified to advise local care takers in the affected regions.

On the other hand, the SPP is a low-cost program guided by DOS foreign policy objectives, but administered through the National Guard Bureau and executed in support of U.S. combatant commanders and Chief of Mission security cooperation objectives. In place since 1993, the SPP includes 68 unique partnerships with 74 nations around the world ­—28 of which fall under SOUTHCOM’s umbrella, making it one of the biggest within the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to create cooperative, mutually beneficial relationships with the civil and armed forces (or equivalent) of partner nations.

According to the National Guard, “the SPP evolved from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision to set up the Joint Contact Team Program in the Baltic Region with Reserve component Soldiers and Airmen. A subsequent National Guard Bureau proposal paired U.S. states with three nations emerging from the former Soviet Bloc, giving birth to the SPP and subsequently becoming a key U.S. security cooperation tool that facilitates cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encourages people-to-people ties at the state level."

The program carries out activities that include leadership development; Defense reform and military modernization; Military medical and engineer activities; aviation logistics, maintenance and safety; border, port and aviation security; disaster preparedness and crisis management; critical infrastructure and resources protection; deployment planning & family support programs.

Colonel Thomas W. Hanley, Chief of SOUTHCOM’s National Guard Integration Division, said the SPP has been in place in the Central American, South American and Caribbean region since 1996, with the establishment of partnerships between Ecuador and Kentucky, Peru and West Virginia, Panama and Missouri, and Belize and Louisiana, but has grown to include partnerships between 28 partner nations and 18 U.S. states today.

Col. Hanley explained that the National Defense Authorization Act allows U.S. servicemen the opportunity to support partner nations in emergency and disaster response activities with civilian and military entities in each. “It allows the National Guard, Air and Army to leverage both, combat arms and military skills, as well as citizen soldier skills (such as first responder and emergency medical technician skills) to grow emergency response capabilities in a given country by exchanging ideas, advising and offering mentorship to set up emergency response centers, carry out law enforcement, conduct martial law, and establish the military infrastructure needed during crisis management.” Fundamentally, he added, “it allows us the opportunity to export our great emergency response skills to our partners in order to build their capabilities to respond accordingly, as well as learn from their lessons and concepts as well. It’s a partnership.”

The partnership between Jamaica and the District of Columbia, for example, is planning 10 events for 2015, all of them with a focus on infectious disease prevention and control —including Ebola—. One of them, a Medical Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) will cover military-to-military Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response medical capacity building with Jamaica to mitigate diseases. “The overall objective is to review and analyze the Jamaica Defence Force’s medical processes and management, and medical force protection sustainment operations,” said Major Michael Renwick, from SOUTHCOM’s State Partnership Program division.

Along the same lines of proactivity and preparedness for a potential infectious disease outbreak, the Suriname-South Dakota partnership, in place since 2006, is also in the process of planning a SMEE on Ebola Best Practices to take place in the South American nation from November 18‒22. The expert panel conducting this event is will offer the exchange to the Surinamese National Coordination Center for Disaster Response (NCCR) and will cover topics including deploying, using and disposing of Protective Personal Equipment if a potential viral outbreak, such as Ebola, should arise.

Whether it’s through the State Partnership Program or the Humanitarian Assistance Program, the United States, via SOUTHCOM, is fully invested in the Central American, South American and Caribbean region with a year-round presence and disposition to assist each nation in building the capacity to respond to different crises. This robust network of collective and cooperative programs establishes and continues to build strong and fruitful ties that translate to reliable, ever-expanding partnerships.






Part of the U.S. Southern Command’s (SOUTHCOM) outreach efforts with Central and South American and Caribbean partner nations includes cooperative strategies such as the Humanitarian Assistance Program (HAP) and the National Guard’s State Partnership Program (SPP).

SOUTHCOM’s HAP works year round to respond to crises and contingencies in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean in a three-step process of (1) building facilities, (2) training local authorities to properly manage disasters and (3) providing equipment to bolster each host nation’s own capacity to manage these disasters. HAP representatives work directly with partner nation government authorities to initially define their immediate needs and subsequently strengthen their ability to respond to humanitarian crises, natural and man-made disasters, and disease mitigation and prevention initiatives.

According to William I. Clark, Chief of SOUTHCOM’s Civil-Military Assistance Division, the program’s intent “is to partner with partner nations and build their capacity so that they are able to meet their own requirements, thereby reinforcing our relationship for cooperation as we all work together toward the common goal of alleviating human suffering.”

The Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid (OHDACA) appropriation supports the U.S. Secretary of Defense and Combatant Commanders’ security cooperation strategies to build indigenous capabilities and cooperative relationships with allies, friends, civil society, and potential partners. It provides funds to the Combatant Commanders’ Humanitarian Assistance activities in order to conduct a variety of projects under the three aforementioned steps, including refurbishing existent medical facilities, constructing school buildings, digging wells, improving sanitary facilities and training host country personnel in internally displaced person and refugee repatriation operations, as well as disaster relief and emergency response planning, all of which may be done in association with a military operation or exercise, according to the U.S. Department of State (DOS) site on Humanitarian Operations.

Clark further explains that the program carries out 45-50 projects per year in the Central and South American and Caribbean region alone. These varied efforts are designed so that civilian U.S. entities engage with host nation authorities with military oversight to enhance the capacities of the host nation and bolster their governance, thereby increasing the partner nation population’s confidence in their government.

In terms of emergency response planning, the efforts encompass providing technical aid and facilitating the construction of disaster relief warehouses, emergency operation centers, shelters and fire stations and sponsoring disaster preparedness and medical readiness training exercises (MEDRETES), seminars and conferences with the goal of improving the collective ability of the partner nations to respond quickly and effectively to disasters with U.S. help. “HAP attempts to improve the living conditions and enhance the legitimacy of partner nation governments by improving their capacity of providing essential services to their populations and become less reliant on international support when responding to disasters,” added Clark.

Health care-specific efforts, like the MEDRETEs and Medical Civic Action Programs (MEDCAP) are tailored according to the local authorities’ needs and conducted by small U.S. military medical teams in different partner nations multiple times a year. In addition to providing free medical treatments to thousands of people in various communities and attempting to improve the overall level of care of the host nation’s healthcare system, these training events also enhance the readiness of U.S. military medical forces.

For example, in March 2013, HAP assisted the Brazilian Air Force in procuring Cyanokits®, cyanide poisoning anecdotes, to the nation’s Health Ministry to treat hospitalized survivors of a deadly nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Rio Grande do Sul state, who were exposed to cyanide gas released in the blaze that killed 236, mostly from inhaling the fumes, according to Reuters
.

More recently, in October 2014, HAP assisted El Salvador’s Ministry of Civil Defense and National System of Civil Protection and Disaster Mitigation and Prevention (Sistema Nacional de Protección Civil, Prevención y Mitigación de Desastres de El Salvador) with air search and rescue capabilities in support of the Humanitarian Rescue Unit’s (Unidad Humanitaria de Rescate) domestic and regional disaster response system. In order to enhance the collective civil-military disaster management response capability through improved readiness, response and recovery, HAP provided a helicopter rescue system and related maintenance training for two Salvadoran Air Force UH-1H helicopters that support the unit.

Currently, HAP is planning disease mitigation and prevention initiatives to support the U.S. government’s response to Ebola in West Africa. Their support to the Pan-American Health Organization, the World Health Organization, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance, as leading agencies of the effort, is in the form of providing personal protective equipment to the regional response teams that are being identified to advise local care takers in the affected regions.

On the other hand, the SPP is a low-cost program guided by DOS foreign policy objectives, but administered through the National Guard Bureau and executed in support of U.S. combatant commanders and Chief of Mission security cooperation objectives. In place since 1993, the SPP includes 68 unique partnerships with 74 nations around the world ­—28 of which fall under SOUTHCOM’s umbrella, making it one of the biggest within the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) to create cooperative, mutually beneficial relationships with the civil and armed forces (or equivalent) of partner nations.

According to the National Guard, “the SPP evolved from a 1991 U.S. European Command decision to set up the Joint Contact Team Program in the Baltic Region with Reserve component Soldiers and Airmen. A subsequent National Guard Bureau proposal paired U.S. states with three nations emerging from the former Soviet Bloc, giving birth to the SPP and subsequently becoming a key U.S. security cooperation tool that facilitates cooperation across all aspects of international civil-military affairs and encourages people-to-people ties at the state level."

The program carries out activities that include leadership development; Defense reform and military modernization; Military medical and engineer activities; aviation logistics, maintenance and safety; border, port and aviation security; disaster preparedness and crisis management; critical infrastructure and resources protection; deployment planning & family support programs.

Colonel Thomas W. Hanley, Chief of SOUTHCOM’s National Guard Integration Division, said the SPP has been in place in the Central American, South American and Caribbean region since 1996, with the establishment of partnerships between Ecuador and Kentucky, Peru and West Virginia, Panama and Missouri, and Belize and Louisiana, but has grown to include partnerships between 28 partner nations and 18 U.S. states today.

Col. Hanley explained that the National Defense Authorization Act allows U.S. servicemen the opportunity to support partner nations in emergency and disaster response activities with civilian and military entities in each. “It allows the National Guard, Air and Army to leverage both, combat arms and military skills, as well as citizen soldier skills (such as first responder and emergency medical technician skills) to grow emergency response capabilities in a given country by exchanging ideas, advising and offering mentorship to set up emergency response centers, carry out law enforcement, conduct martial law, and establish the military infrastructure needed during crisis management.” Fundamentally, he added, “it allows us the opportunity to export our great emergency response skills to our partners in order to build their capabilities to respond accordingly, as well as learn from their lessons and concepts as well. It’s a partnership.”

The partnership between Jamaica and the District of Columbia, for example, is planning 10 events for 2015, all of them with a focus on infectious disease prevention and control —including Ebola—. One of them, a Medical Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE) will cover military-to-military Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Response medical capacity building with Jamaica to mitigate diseases. “The overall objective is to review and analyze the Jamaica Defence Force’s medical processes and management, and medical force protection sustainment operations,” said Major Michael Renwick, from SOUTHCOM’s State Partnership Program division.

Along the same lines of proactivity and preparedness for a potential infectious disease outbreak, the Suriname-South Dakota partnership, in place since 2006, is also in the process of planning a SMEE on Ebola Best Practices to take place in the South American nation from November 18‒22. The expert panel conducting this event is will offer the exchange to the Surinamese National Coordination Center for Disaster Response (NCCR) and will cover topics including deploying, using and disposing of Protective Personal Equipment if a potential viral outbreak, such as Ebola, should arise.

Whether it’s through the State Partnership Program or the Humanitarian Assistance Program, the United States, via SOUTHCOM, is fully invested in the Central American, South American and Caribbean region with a year-round presence and disposition to assist each nation in building the capacity to respond to different crises. This robust network of collective and cooperative programs establishes and continues to build strong and fruitful ties that translate to reliable, ever-expanding partnerships.
Share