FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

172Image 1: Medical Rescue Group of the Prefecture’s Disaster Response HeadquartersTable 1: Timeline of Explosions at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi and Daini Nuclear Power PlantsMarch 12Dropping levels of coolant water in Daiichi plant’s Unit 1 Reactor -> pressure release valves opened, evacuation of those within 3 kilometers and indoor refuge for those within 10 kilometers of the Daiichi plant -> some hours later, evacuation of those within 10 kilometers Evacuation of those within 3 kilometers and indoor refuge for those within 10 kilometers of the Daini plantHydrogen explosion at Daiichi plant’s Unit 1 Reactor -> destruction of the reactor building -> evacuation of those from within 20 kilometers of the Daiichi plant and 10 kilometers of the Daini plantMarch 14Hydrogen explosion in the Daiichi Unit 3 Reactor -> destruction of the reactor buildingMarch 15Sound of explosion at the Daiichi Unit 2 Reactor, fire at the Daiichi Unit 4 Reactor -> indoor refuge orders for those within 20–30 kilometers from the Daiichi plantAlthough the penetration rate and battery life of the internet, cell phones, and other portable gadgets have progressed enormously, these gadgets and services could not maintain their robustness or stability in the more severely damaged areas from the earthquake and tsunami. Relay base stations were damaged by the earthquake and tsunami, causing a narrowing in their coverage areas and an inability to respond to the increase in communication demands; however, conditions differed among service providers. At the time, it was difficult to contact physicians who worked at a hospital about 3 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi plant and were given emergency evacuation orders with their patients. Those involved believe that the lack of information and disruption in communication systems impeded their ability to request for support. In short, the inability to share damage reports is an indication of the severity of the damage.During the disaster, social networking services and other networks facilitated the quick transfer of information across the country, including information about the needs of disaster areas, the most appropriate transfer routes and methods, the locations of aid supplies, and the amount of aid available. But those of us who were active in the disaster area had no time to check this information; thus, further research is needed to validate the contributions such information made to rescue efforts.1. Evacuation and Information Transmission after the Fukushima Daiichi Plant AccidentThe 3-kilometer evacuation zone set up on the day of the disaster was gradually expanded (Table 1). Thus, inpatients within the zone had to be transferred. At first, they were transferred to the indoor refuge zone, 20–30 kilometers from the Fukushima Daiichi plant. However, due to the lack of water, food, heavy industrial oil, gasoline, and pharmaceuticals, medical facilities in the Special Report from Fukushima on the Great East Japan Earthquake: Hope in the Midst of Adversity, Part 2