FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line
133chap.IIIStruggle Against RadioactivityFUKUSHIMA: Lives on the Line*1) Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Fukushima Medical University School of Medicine (1 Hikarigaoka, Fukushima City, Fukushima Prefecture 960-1295)*2) Center for Medical Education and Career Development, Fukushima Medical University School of MedicineThe Few Days after the Earthquake (Supercritical Stage: Disaster Medical Care)On the day of the earthquake, two FMU orthopedic surgeons provided medical care for tsunami victims in Hamadori, an area of coastal Fukushima ravaged by the tsunami. When the earthquake struck, the two surgeons were at Futaba Kosei Hospital (Futaba Town) and Fukushima Prefectural Ono Hospital (Okuma Town). The physician at Ono Hospital could not return to Fukushima City, so on his way home, he stopped by Futaba Kosei Hospital, where he joined the other FMU physician and local staff to provide early-stage treatment to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. The two physicians returned to Fukushima City the following evening, after observing a decrease in the arrival of earthquake and tsunami victims. After the earthquake, at the university hospital, we fully prepared for the specialized and emergency treatment of patients with post-earthquake trauma. We suspended all scheduled surgeries and outpatient care, and requested patients whose homes suffered little damage to leave the hospital so that we could secure more beds. We also placed many temporary beds under the main hospital entrance and set up check-in facilities in the nursing department for patients who did not need hospitalization but could not return home. To care for emergency patients, we had clinical (junior) residents volunteer in the emergency department. Up to 35 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs) with 180 members assembled at FMU Hospital. Expecting the transfer of many trauma patients rescued from collapsed homes (as was the case during the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake), the orthopedics department had at least six staff members on duty throughout the day to perform emergency surgeries. In addition, there were other members on call at home in case we needed more help. Hospital staff on duty worked in shifts, overseeing green-tagged outpatients (explained below) after emergency outpatient triage. We had implants and other items necessary for surgery air-shipped from support hospitals, organizations, and groups across the country to Fukushima Airport, the only operating airport in the entire southern Tohoku region.However, three days after the earthquake, the “Experiences of Clinical Orthopedics in Fukushima” Clinical Orthopedics Vol. 47 No. 3, March 2012 (Igaku-Shoin)Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami and Ensuing Radiation Exposure IssuesContribution of Fukushima Medical University and its Orthopedics Department, and the Current State of Fukushima PrefectureKoji Otani*1,2) , Shin-ichi Konno*1) , Hiroaki Shishido*1)Key words: earthquake, radiation exposure, orthopaedic traumaAlmost one year has passed since the March 11, 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami and the ensuing nuclear power plant accident. Unfortunately, the nuclear radiation issues in Fukushima still do not show signs of dissipating.Fukushima Medical University (FMU) is located in Fukushima City, about 60 kilometers inland from the areas directly affected by the tsunami. In this article, we compile our experiences as part of FMU’s orthopedics department and how we provided backup support from the hospital to the affected areas. Please refer to other chapters about the role of orthopedic surgeons in the coastal areas damaged by the tsunami. Here we discuss not only our experiences as a backup support hospital but also the current state of medical care in Fukushima given the unceasing nuclear radiation issues.