FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

141chap.IIIStruggle Against RadioactivityFUKUSHIMA: Lives on the LineFukushima Prefecture Nuclear Disaster Prevention Plan and Radiation Emergency Medical Response FrameworkThe FMU Hospital, where the authors work, had installed various diagnostic equipment in its emergency radiation treatment facilities completed in 2001. These facilities were built as part of the measures taken for radiation exposure medical care (through a supplementary budget approved in 1999) that were prompted by the criticality accident in 1999 at JCO Co., Ltd. in Tokai. The Fukushima Prefecture radiation emergency medicine manual*1 (May 2003) stipulates, as part of the Fukushima Prefecture nuclear disaster prevention plan, FMU’s role as a secondary radiation treatment facility. As such, FMU is responsible for the secondary treatment and hospitalization of radiation exposure victims when initial medical care or secondary medical care facilities cannot provide adequate contamination treatment or in the case of a large-scale calamity. In addition, FMU compiled a radiation medicine manual*2 (May 2002). Since 2001, FMU has been participating in the nuclear disaster training exercises held annually in Fukushima Prefecture. On August 25, 2007, the 11th Radiation Emergency Medicine Forum was held in Fukushima City, and current and future strategies for handling stable iodine were discussed. In the nuclear disaster training exercises held on October 23, 2007, drills were conducted for distributing stable iodine.Fukushima Prefecture supplies electricity to the Tokyo metropolitan area, which has 10 nuclear power reactors at two different plants (approximately 20% of Tokyo Electric Power Company’s supply comes from Fukushima Prefecture). In return, the prefecture receives various subsidies, including proceeds from a nuclear fuel tax. In addition, an emergency medical response framework (Figure 1) for radiation exposure has been put in place.*3To encounter accidents or disasters, an 18-member team of medical specialists was formed at FMU as the Fukushima emergency radiation medicine response unit. The unit includes a leader (head of the radiology department), sub-leader (head of ER), two physicians (from the radiology department and ER), five nurses (from the nursing department), seven radiologists, and two administrators.Within Fukushima Prefecture, Fukushima Prefectural Oono Hospital, Futaba Kosei Hospital, Imamura Hospital, Fukushima Rosai Hospital, and Minami-Soma Municipal Hospital are designated as Supplementary Volume: Chemistry 2012, Part 3: Frantic Scientists Rush through the Disaster SiteFukushima Medical University’s Emergency Medical Care for Radiation VictimsFumio Shishido, Choichiro Tase, Hisashi Sato, Makoto Miyazaki, Arifumi Hasegawa, Akira OhtsuruFukushima Medical UniversityLocated in Fukushima Prefecture’s Hamadori region, Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi and Daini nuclear power plants sustained major damage from the offshore earthquake of magnitude 9.0 and the resulting tsunami that struck the Tohoku region at 2:46 pm on March 11, 2011. The standard emergency procedures for nuclear power plants—shut down, cool down, and close off—were immediately initiated after the quake; however, the ensuing tsunami exceeded anticipated magnitude, damaging electrical and emergency backup power supplies to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This resulted in a loss of the plant’s cooling systems, thus damaging and melting fuel rods, and subsequently triggering the hydrogen explosion. The hydrogen explosion tore through the building housing the plant, releasing radioactive material and causing a Level 7 nuclear disaster. The Fukushima Medical University Hospital, designated as a secondary radiation treatment facility for nuclear disaster, was overwhelmed by the unexpected events. This manuscript aims to convey the development of the Fukushima Medical University (FMU) response to the radiation exposure and the experiences that the authors were left with from facilitating the response.