PHOENIX -- A delegation seeking to establish a national trauma system in South Korea is in Arizona to see how hospitals, first responders and health care leaders manage the state's system.
Thirty-four physicians, public health and government officials met Monday with leaders including Gov. Jan Brewer and U.S. Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Phoenix, to kick off the three-day Korea-Arizona Trauma Summit.
"We are very proud of the EMS (emergency medical services) and trauma system Arizona has developed," Brewer said. "Many people, even Arizonans, don't realize what a global leader this state has become in delivering fast, effective and life-saving treatment."
Between 2007 and 2012 the number of trauma centers in Arizona rose from seven to 25.
The summit, hosted by the Ramsey Social Justice Foundation in collaboration with the Arizona Department of Health Services, includes tours of Maricopa Medical Center and Phoenix Children's Hospital in Phoenix and University of Arizona Medical Center in Tucson.
Arizona leaders and members of the delegation signed a memorandum of understanding to continue a partnership.
Dr. Bentley Bobrow, medical director for the Arizona Department of Health Services' Bureau of Emergency Medical Services and Trauma System, said health officials in Arizona and South Korea have been working together for the last three years on multiple initiatives. He said this is the third and largest visit to Arizona by government and public health officials from that country.
"We're really excited to learn from them just as they have learned from us," he said.
In 2012 the Republic of Korea's Health Ministry was given $1 billion dollars to establish a national trauma system over the next five years
Oh Jae Sae, National Assembly representative of the Democratic Party of Korea, said the Health Ministry has started the process of building a trauma system by selecting five locations to be designated as trauma centers.
"I believe our visit to Arizona will give us the knowledge and expertise for more updated trauma system," he said.
Will Humble, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said the summit will allow health officials to share strategies to improve the quality of life and public health both in Arizona and South Korea. A full system of trauma care is a key part of saving lives, he said.
"What we call it here in Arizona is really a chain of survival," Humble said.
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said though the meetings would focus on trauma best practices, the event isn't taking place in a vacuum from the tensions between South Korea and a nuclear-armed North Korea.
"The people of Phoenix, Arizona, the people of the United States of America, stand with the people of South Korea during these very, very challenging times," he said. "We are partners in so many ways and in the threats that we all face."