JMA Disaster Headquarters Status Reports

17:00, April 2, 2011

Observation Trip
On March 30-31, Dr. Masami Ishii, who is JMA's Executive Board Member and the officer in charge of emergency medicine, and four members of the secretariat visited disaster areas and verified the current situation. The group visited the prefectural medical associations in Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, and Ibaraki as well as the Iwaki-city Medical Association.

At three of the prefectural medical associations (Fukushima, Miyagi, and Iwate), the group explained again that normally JMATs are "estimated to spend about one month providing medical care at evacuation centers and first aid stations and support for the continuation of pre-disaster medical care after taking over from DMATs that handle initial aid during the 48-72 hours after a disaster strikes." But in this case, "JMAT operations would likely be prolonged, given the enormity of the earthquake damage, the vastness of the afflicted area, and the special nature of the nuclear power plant problem." And finally, "JMATs will pull out once local medical service gets back on its feet."

In addition, the group requested the prefectural medical associations to consider exactly where, how many JMATs would be needed, and for how long from April forward, and to let the JMA know. The JMA indicated that it wants to determine the plan based on that information. Comment and requests heard from the prefectural medical associations are given below.

(1) Fukushima
"The chain of command in the prefectural government doesn't work well and it is slow to respond." "It would have been good if there were gasoline stands for medical personnel." "Harmful rumors about the nuclear power plant resulted in the staff of hospitals with small children being forced through persuasion of families to evacuate to other areas." "Securing beds for evacuation patients in the prefecture is a challenge."

(2) Miyagi
"Nearly 30 clinics in Ishinomaki were lost. Reopening them would be difficult, and there are other problems including the debts that were left." "I want the approval to secure beds for accepting evacuation patients even in areas with surplus hospital beds." "I want clear indication of how to handle people whom we are not sure whether they have national health insurance or union health insurance."

(3) Iwate
"The 10 medical associations inland are preparing to form Iwate JMATs to support the four medical associations along the coast. We are getting ready to take over from the JMA's JMATs at any time." "Support teams need to be organized based on an understanding of the medical needs for each medical specialty in the disaster area." "The communication structure hasn't recovered at medical associations in the disaster areas."

(4) Ibaraki
"Support from within Ibaraki will be provided to the northern Ibaraki region that was damaged, and so JMAT operations in the prefecture will end on March 31. From then on we want JMAT strength to concentrate on the three prefectures in the Tohoku region." "The prefectural medical association, the prefectural government, and core disaster hospitals together set up the Ibaraki Medical Association Disaster Recovery Medical Liaison Council." "The Ibaraki Medical Association will cover the acceptance of patients and evacuees from Fukushima."

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