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Joint Task Force-Bravo welcomes training to help support mission

SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Members from the Pacific Disaster Center traveled over 4,000 miles to provide Joint Task Force-Bravo with the tools necessary to successfully plan and prepare for a crisis and contingency response within the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

Beginning Nov. 6, members of JTF-Bravo will participate in a two day training session provided by the PDC.

"The PDC training will help improve JTF-Bravo service members' understanding of the tools available to plan, prepare and execute humanitarian assistance as well as disaster relief support operations," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Joseph Leardi, JTF-B director of operations.  "Furthermore, the training will allow JTF-Bravo access to the many resources available within the Disaster-AWARE integrated platform and enable us to submit historical as well as near-real time data from the Central American area of operations."

The PDC, based out of Hawaii, utilizes information, science, and technology that allow leaders make effective decisions during both natural and man-made disasters.  By using evidence-based data decision makers can reduce the effects of a disaster by promoting risk reduction concepts and strategies.

"The benefit of the PDC is twofold.  First it combines multiple information sources and functions into one place making it more convenient for decision makers to use and draw conclusions from.  Secondly it is a platform for sharing information from a variety of providers," said Todd Bosse, disaster management specialist from the Pacific Disaster Center.  "This level of sharing and cooperation is what gives us a base data, real time data, historical data, as well as data on infrastructures in the area that are affected.  This data sharing allows us and our users plan and prepare for incoming disasters."

The training helps prepare first responders, government officials, and personnel respond to natural disasters and other emergencies.  JTF-Bravo embraces this event by viewing it as an opportunity to increase service member proficiency to disaster response within the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility.

"By integrating this system into our planning and operation process we will be able to eliminate a lot of duplicate work," said U.S. Army Col. Kirk Dorr, JTF-Bravo commander.  "There is no reason for us to be wasting our resources trying to figure the extent of damage caused during a disaster that we've been called to respond to when the work has already been completed, complied, and verified."

JTF-Bravo members arrived at the training ready to learn with specific goals in mind.

"The PDC training will assist us in using the Disaster-AWARE tools that will help us respond to real-world disaster situations, specifically by training the SOUTHCOM Situational Assessment Team to use the tools to coordinate communications and better focus responses," said U.S. Air Force Capt. Wesley Fite, JTF-Bravo plans and operations chief of training.  "Our goals for this training are to be better informed about the capabilities of the system, to help us improve coordination with the Pacific Disaster Center, and ensure the SOUTHCOM Situational Assessment Team can fully utilize the tools during exercises or in the event of an emergency."

The tools offered by the PDC will also help with current and future biological hazard planning.

"The spread of Ebola is a top priority for the USSOUTHCOM commander," added Dorr.

The PDC's BioSurveillance Information Service helps decision makers understand disease outbreaks like Ebola Virus Disease, as well as underlying risks.

"Project BioServ uses both automated and manual imputes to track the spread and affects of infectious diseases," said Bosse.  "It is used to track and compile all data of biological outbreaks into one place so that all organizations can access it and use it for both planning and response."

Currently USSOUTHCOM doesn't have an active role in the current Ebola Virus Disease health crisis in West Africa; however it will continue to monitor international events that could potentially impact the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility.  Should EVD spread into the USSOUTHCOM area of responsibility, JTF-Bravo will be ready to identify, train, and prepare forces for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief-related requests.

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