Story by Ana Allen on 08/02/2016
FORD ISLAND, Hawaii (July, 14, 2016) -- Regional Health Command-Pacific (RHC-P) successfully led key medical activities aimed at enhancing humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts across the region as part of Rim of the Pacific 2016. One such activity included a humanitarian assistance / disaster relief (HA/DR) scenario, developed in coordination with leaders from the Healthcare Association of Hawaii (HAH) and the Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team (HDMAT), structured with the goal of enhancing disaster preparedness across U.S. and international partner government and private sector agencies.
RHC-P Emergency Manager and a lead medical planner for the HA/DR, Thomas Bookman, said the plan not only rehearsed emergency response capabilities of Hawaii-area partners through the simulated movement of patients across 19 Hawaii-island area hospitals by land, air and sea, but the drill engaged Pacific partners, enhancing preparedness region-wide.
A total of 312 simulated casualties were moved during the exercise.
"In the event of a national disaster, ports might be damaged, our international airports might be destroyed, and so we are going to be on our own for a long period of time. In the midst of a real crisis isn't when you should start developing relationships. That partnership needs to be reinforced prior to that event ever happening," Bookman said.
Bookman played a lead role in the scenario, acting as the minister of health for the fictional island of Griffin and working closely with international community liaisons with a multitude of organizations such as the International Federation of Red Cross, Japan's Humanitarian Assistance and Emergency Relief Division of the International Cooperation Bureau, and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Additionally, teams from Canada, Australia, other foreign USAID equivalents, and international military partners in the Japanese Navy and Canadian Air Force played roles in the exercise.
In addition to RHC-P, U.S. participants also included Tripler Army Medical Center, Healthcare Association of Hawaii, Hawaii Disaster Medical Assistance Team, Hawaii Disaster Aeromedical Staging Facility, the U.S. Army Health Clinic-Schofield Barracks, Veterans Affairs Pacific Islands Health Care System, 18th Medical Command, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, 15th Medical Group Joint-Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Marine Corps Base Kaneohe and 25th Infantry Division Combat Aviation Brigade.
RHC-P also supported the Uniformed Services University Center for Global Health Engagements course on the Fundamentals of Global Health Engagements which included military and civilian representatives from all U.S. services, as well as international participants representing Australia, Canada, and China.
Lt. Col. Derek Licina, RHC-P Director for Global Health Engagements (GHE), facilitated one of the lectures in a classroom setting and said that the engagement provided an opportunity to share GHE best practices with international partners, which supports service component and combatant command Theater Security Cooperation objectives.
"The opportunity to candidly discuss global health engagement challenges and opportunities with our international colleagues will improve the overall quality of future activities conducted by our community of interest," said Licina.
RHC-P is also collaborating with the USU CGHE to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of GHE in supporting partner nation capacity building, improving Department of Defense readiness through engagement, and achieving strategic military objectives.
Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in Rim of the Pacific exercise from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.
RHC-P orchestrates the delivery of world-class medical care for service members, families and eligible beneficiaries, and provides medical readiness and diplomacy in support of United States Army Pacific in the Pacific Command area of responsibility.