New Zealand Army Sgt. Richard Gill trains nursing students on proper CPR techniques at the Viola Hospital during a Pacific Partnership 2013 nursing conference, June 20. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tim D. Godbee)

VAIOLA, Tonga - Pacific Partnership 2013 non-governmental organization volunteers, U.S. and partner nation service members held a nursing conference at the Vailoa Hospital, June 20.

During the conference, Pacific Partnership personnel trained nursing students and teachers on proper cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) techniques, mass casualty response, and disaster preparedness.

"We're teaching basic life support to teachers so that they can walk away confident when they teach other people how to do it," said New Zealand Army Sgt. Richard Gaill. "From here they'll finish their training and part this knowledge with people from their community."

Tilema Cama, principal of the Vailoa School of Nursing, said the training is critical to the intuition's teaching certification.

"We have requirements to meet in order to accredit our program every year that include for the teachers to be certified CPR practitioners," said Cama. "When the Pacific Partnership team came around we identified this as one of the key things that we needed and they agreed to support it."

In addition to medical certifications, Pacific Partnership personnel also held presentations on natural disaster response and preparedness. U.S. Army Capt Linda Jones said that the training correlated well with the students and teachers because of their personal experiences with recent natural disasters in Tonga.

"The emotion was very high in the room. The island is so small that the nurses that go out and help the injured during disasters are often helping people that they know and love," said Jones. "A lot of them come home and see family and friends that they've had to rescue from disasters so they often experience post-traumatic stress so we discussed methods of caring for themselves and others simultaneously."

Working at the invitation of each host nation, Pacific Partnership is joined by partner nations that include Australia, Canada, Colombia, France, Japan, Malaysia Singapore, South Korea and New Zealand to strengthen disaster response preparedness around the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.