International medical officers taking part in a U.S. 7th Fleet medical seminar tour the medical facilities aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) in Yokosuka, Japan, Jan. 16. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob I. Allison)

YOKOSUKA, Japan - More than 100 medical experts from nine countries in the Pacific region gathered in Yokosuka, Japan at the annual Pacific Navies Senior Medical Leadership Seminar, January 15-16 to begin development of common Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HA/DR) procedures.

The seminar focused on creating common methods, communication and prioritization of HA/DR efforts with a preventative medicine emphasis.

In both Operations Damayan and Tomodachi, delegates from numerous countries noted how dozens of organizations and countries wanted to contribute, but their efforts were not coordinated or prioritized as well as they could have been. Creating a common playbook will help get aid, supplies and people where they are needed most.

The seminar began with each of the nations sharing their experiences with past HA/DR efforts, focusing on medical relief and capabilities. Senior medical leaders then participated in a series of "table top" exercises, in which leaders discussed what type of support they could provide in future disaster scenarios and how to best coordinate efforts.

"The table top exercise for this conference is designed to determine what kind of military assets can be provided and how to share information during a real scenario," said Rear Adm. Fumihiko Hirata, commander, Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Hospital Yokosuka.

By the end of the seminar, the expectation from the discussions and open exchange of ideas was to make the Indo-Asia-Pacific nations better prepared to deal with unexpected disasters though improved collaboration.

"I look forward to your feedback so we can continue to ensure this seminar remains relevant and continues to address the multitude of medical challenges you face every day," said Vice Adm. Robert Thomas, commander, U.S. Seventh Fleet.

In addition to discussing a common set of HA/DR standards, this multinational seminar is important to building relationships amongst all allies and partners in Seventh Fleet.

"This is a great opportunity to get our allied and partner nations together to talk about important issues pertaining to response to disasters," said Rear Adm. Colin Chinn, United States Pacific Command surgeon. "We can share experiences and lessons learned as well as build critical relationships as we move forward."