TACLOBAN, Philippines (NNS) — Humanitarian assistance and disaster relief planners, medical personnel and engineers from Pacific Partnership 2019 (PP19) came together with Philippine servicemembers, local medical professionals, police, firefighters and community volunteers at the Tacloban City Market for a field training exercise (FTX) where participants responded to a simulated 8.5-magnitude earthquake, March 21.
The FTX is the capstone event after two weeks of intensive training designed to enhance local and multilateral capabilities to respond to disasters and to facilitate cooperation between forces from participating partner nations.
“Learning how to integrate and really bolster the local community’s capability allows us to build not only a partnership, but a lasting effort for the community, improving our ability to respond to disasters both individually and collectively,” said Lt. Cmdr. Eric Hardy, Navy liaison and representative at the Joint Enroute Care Schoolhouse.
While the earthquake was simulated, it allowed participants to practice several key techniques to use in the event of a future disaster, including search and rescue, triage, logistics, shoring of damaged buildings, and disaster planning and management.
“This is a scenario with a high probability of happening in this region, considering that we have a lot of earthquake generators – part of this province lies along the Philippine fault zone, and we are also facing the Philippine trench,” said Ray Gozon, regional director of the Office of Civil Defense.
In addition to professional agencies, 150 local volunteers participated in the event as role players, serving as disaster victims to enhance the realistic nature of the scenario and the effectiveness of the training.
“This is one of the biggest events that I have ever seen in the 16 years of my career,” said Master Sgt. Ging Yeung, one of the planners for the exercise. “There is a tremendous amount of coordination between civilian and military units that allows them to better understand the big picture and their role in facing a disaster.”
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 in the Indo-Pacific.