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New Hampshire, El Salvador exchange emergency management best practices

As part of the National Guard State Partnership Program, a group of N.H. National Guard and N.H. civil emergency response leaders greet members of the Comandos del Salvamento Green Cross outside the Republica de El Salvador en la American Central, Ministerio de Governacion building, as they tour various emergency response centers in San Salvador, El Salvador, May 10, 2012. (Released/National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Vezeau)

As part of the National Guard State Partnership Program, a group of N.H. National Guard and N.H. civil emergency response leaders greet members of the Comandos del Salvamento Green Cross outside the Republica de El Salvador en la American Central, Ministerio de Governacion building, as they tour various emergency response centers in San Salvador, El Salvador, May 10, 2012. (Released/National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Vezeau)

Col. Dort Payne, Army South, Deputy Surgeon (left) and Capt. Jose Mendez, N.H. National Guard, Bilateral Affairs Officer, chat with El Salvadoran kids during a tour of the Comandos de Salvamento Green Cross facility San Salvador, El Salvador, May 10, 2012, as part of the ongoing National Guard State Partnership Program. (Released/National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Vezeau)

Col. Dort Payne, Army South, Deputy Surgeon (left) and Capt. Jose Mendez, N.H. National Guard, Bilateral Affairs Officer, chat with El Salvadoran kids during a tour of the Comandos de Salvamento Green Cross facility San Salvador, El Salvador, May 10, 2012, as part of the ongoing National Guard State Partnership Program. (Released/National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Vezeau)

As part of the National Guard State Partnership Program, a group of N.H. National Guard and N.H. civil emergency response leaders tour the San Salvador fire station, one of the many emergency response centers in El Salvador, May 10, 2012. (Released/National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Vezeau)

As part of the National Guard State Partnership Program, a group of N.H. National Guard and N.H. civil emergency response leaders tour the San Salvador fire station, one of the many emergency response centers in El Salvador, May 10, 2012. (Released/National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Aaron Vezeau)

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador -- Four members of the New Hampshire National Guard, two members from U.S. Army Southern Command and 10 New Hampshire emergency operations managers traveled here to participate in a week long Emergency Management and Medical Response Seminar May 7 through 11.

This bilateral exchange focused on lessons learned from recent Salvadoran flood disaster relief operations and best practices in use by N.H. domestic response agencies to remedy future disasters.

"The goal of this exchange is to interact with emergency management specialists in El Salvador," said N.H. Air National Guard Lt. Col. Diane Roberts, state partnership director and international affairs officer for the NHNG. "On this trip we brought down police chiefs, fire chiefs, and several specialists from the state emergency operations center to interact with the local people to learn from each other and advise them on future opportunities."

The partnerships between the governments are invaluable in that they learn from one another's experiences.

"We have similarities in the geographic size that we have responsibility over and differences in that we are a state and this is obviously a country," said Katheryn Doutt, Homeland Security and Emergency Management deputy director. "But both have gone through a number of disasters so this has been a week of emergency management; how do you manage those disasters and how can you get better at that."
After the conference concluded, attendees felt better prepared to respond to challenges that natural disasters present.

"I'm energized by the passion and information exchanged between experts in many professions this week," said N.H. Air National Guard Col. Paul Loiselle, NHNG chief of the joint staff. "The challenges of disaster relief operations, no matter what country we hail from, are complex and diverse. Open dialogue and communication at all levels, including governmental, military and civilian will be critical moving forward among all our organizations to ensure continued improvement."

The New Hampshire and El Salvador state partnership program, which began in 2000, averages several exchanges annually.

The group also toured a San Salvadoran fire station, Green Cross facility, National Center of Emergency Management, a construction site for a new Emergency Operations Center, and the San Salvador Police Department.
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