FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

255chap.VConveying to PosterityFUKUSHIMA: Lives on the Lineradiation. In addition, when deemed necessary, the Ward admitted patients to the hospital and performed surgeries. After the Tokai Village JCO criticality accident in 1999, the organizational guidelines for the decontamination and radiation care facilities of all hospitals in the areas surrounding every nuclear power generation plant in the country called for a standardized expansion of the facilities. In the event of sickness or injury to people as a result of an incident at a nuclear power plant, depending on the symptoms exhibited and the severity of the contamination, patients were transferred to different locations. Patients with tertiary contamination would be transferred to the National Institute of Radiological Sciences (located in Chiba Prefecture), those with secondary contamination would be transferred to the primary regional radiation treatment facility, and those with severe contamination would be sent to the nearest medical facility as soon as possible.During the 10-year period since the “Emergency Radiation Care Ward” was established, it administered a radiation patient transportation simulation only once per year. FMU Hospital accepted its first emergency patient on March 15, 2011. The patient was an employee at Tokyo Electric Power Company’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In mid-March 2011, the University hospital accepted many more patients, both employees of the Fukushima Plant and public servants such as firefighters working in the highly irradiated area surrounding the plant.A specialist team of radiation experts brought in from Hiroshima and Nagasaki universities offered their devoted support of the University’s emergency medical care and radiation treatment activities during the period immediately following the earthquake. In addition, the university’s own radiology medicine physicians gave educational lectures and held consultation sessions for the residents of the prefecture with respect to managing the radiation situation, as well as other ongoing activities to help educate residents.Toward the Recovery of Fukushima: Long-term Strategies and Preparation for the Struggles AheadFMU has prepared itself for the long battle with the radiation situation that occurred after the March 2011 earthquake. Long-term low levels of radiation exposure are predicted for many years into the future, as a wide swath of Fukushima Prefecture has been contaminated. The general consensus up to this point among global scientific experts has been that there is almost no health danger. However, fears of the potential health risks caused by radioactivity have caused over 60,000 people to leave the prefecture seeking refuge, and financial damage caused by the negative sentiment on agricultural and manufactured products, tourism, and a wide range of other industries is having an impact on society. How to contribute to Fukushima’s recovery in the face of these difficult circumstances is the greatest question facing FMU today.“Safety” and “Security” are different. Security is a mental state. While the fear of dangerous situations can serve us well in some cases, “unwarranted fears” can harm people. The lack of information and discord related to the initial radiation risks following the earthquake and peoples’ increasing worries that “we don’t know who we can believe” caused this feeling of “security” to diminish.In consideration of this situation, FMU holds the position of “manager of health risks and protector of the people from the effects of radiation,” which it will carry over to the next generation. It is prepared to stand firm on the long road to restore the security and gain the confidence of the residents of Fukushima. It is the university’s duty to protect the health of the people, generation after generation, by quietly working in the background to collect scientific data from health examination activities, including radiation measurements and feedback collected from the people over many years. In addition, as a central medical care organization, the mission of the university is to restore the idea that “Fukushima is a safe place to live.” The university’s efforts toward decontaminating the environment, preparing the message of recovery it must convey to the people, and simultaneously working toward its goal of creating a “Fukushima Prefecture where people have a long life with the best health in Japan with easy access to the most advanced state-of-the-art healthcare, and with early-stage, optimized health examinations” are making progress.In order to bring about a recovery, it is necessary to gather the wisdom of the world. The following list of people, knowledge, and techniques were gathered in rapid succession from sources both in and outside Japan: Collaborative agreement with Hiroshima and Nagasaki universities, the top global institutions for radiation medical care (April 2011), participation in the Radiation Effects Association (April), initiation of prefecture-wide health management surveys (June), invitation of the Assistant Presidents of Hiroshima and Nagasaki universities (August) collaborative agreement with the National Institute for Radiological Sciences and the Research Center for Radiation Effects (August), establishment of the Center for Radiological Health