FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

152A Week of Perseverance and Team Work——Where were you and what were you doing when the earthquake struck?Kikuchi: At the time, I had just finished giving a presentation at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) in Tokyo. Right after that, our struggle with the earthquake began. We had to safeguard our foreign guests and ensure that they made it home safely the next day. Then I rushed to Fukushima while sending in a medical team to the prefecture’s disaster response headquarters. At the same time, two personnel were dispatched from the ministry to relay information from FMU to the central government. Injured patients and disaster victims were brought in one after another to the university hospital, which became an information waypoint for communication with the prefectural and central governments.——Were all response decisions made by you in the period after the disaster?Kikuchi: FMU had only one disaster response manual for calamities. The nuclear accident far exceeded anything that we had planned and outstripped the capabilities of the facilities, which the central and prefectural governments had set up for nuclear incidents. Moreover, even the medical facilities were significantly damaged in the disaster. So eventually, all response decisions had to be made without consultation as we were pressed for time. ——It seems that you were confronted with one challenging decision after another.Kikuchi: The hospital had not considered developing medical infrastructure that could withstand a natural disaster or stockpiling food and medical supplies. The food supply at the time was just enough to sustain the FMU faculty. Another problem was the lack of adequate support for those providing support. ——So the university hospital became more like a war zone after the disaster?