FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

72Posted on the Fukushima Medical University Hospital homepage, March 21, 2011Messages from Student Volunteers, Medical Interns, and Nursing School StudentsKoji Otani, Associate Professor Center for Medical Education and Career Development Deputy Director, Department of Clinical Education and Research1. Activities of Medical StudentsImmediately after the earthquake, a spontaneous volunteer group mainly consisting of fifth year internship students was organized. This group actively engaged in transporting supplies and patients and made signs urging everyone at the hospital to conserve water and electricity. On the busiest days, as many as 60 volunteers congregated in the hastily arranged volunteer room and offered their time and effort. After the earthquake, as radiation problems developed at the nuclear power plant, the student volunteer group was temporarily disbanded out of concern for their health. However, once it became clear that the radiation exposure level from the accident was not significant enough to present health risks, the group was reassembled owing to the ardent wishes of the students. The students introduced on the FMU Hospital homepage represent the members of this group. I believe that through their volunteer work, they learned that health care is something delivered through the collective efforts of not only doctors and nurses but also various people from different lines of work. In addition, I think the volunteer experience gave them a thorough insight into the nature of leadership, teamwork, and the difficulties and brilliance of the effort required by a group of people to work toward a single goal. I trust that the experience will be a valuable asset to them not only as physicians but also as human beings.2. Activities of Medical InternsThe Primary Care Team, formed under the Emergency Medicine Department and specifically dedicated to emergency care, comprised a substantial number of medical interns rotating among various departments. These interns working under the aegis of emergency medicine physicians were instrumental in examining and administering primary care to patients who were brought to FMU Hospital. This assistance was important because many of the other emergency medicine physicians were extremely busy in handling the disaster response for the entire prefecture, administering primary care at the disaster site, helping transport and transfer patients from one facility to another, and handling administrative procedures. If it were not for the interns, there would surely have been major issues and difficulties with the FMU emergency medical response and with transporting patients from the disaster zones. More than a few other doctors, including myself, felt that the interns, whom we had never been reliant upon before, became much more valuable and much more like actual physicians. I am sure that each intern learned a lot from this disaster. We would also like to let others know about their experiences. We hope these messages reach not only other FMU medical school students but also students and interns across the country.3. Message to All Medical InternsBecause of the accident at the nuclear power plant, Message from the FacultyFirst, allow me to offer my sincere prayers for all those who perished in this disaster. Fukushima Prefecture has experienced a truly unprecedented disaster with a tsunami resulting from the earthquake, and radiation exposure caused by the damaged nuclear power plant. Immediately after the earthquake, FMU Hospital staff and the university as a whole rallied together to respond in any way we could—each person doing whatever was required. During this period, medical students and interns were also active participants. Here we would like to present certain records of their activities.