FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

76I first seriously became interested in becoming a doctor during the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. Now, as I have tried to offer what little help I can to the people of Fukushima, I am reminded of those early feelings. It is painful to witness the people living through each day with such terrible events surrounding them, but I sincerely wish that they do not give up hope. I pray that all residents of the prefecture will be able to recover quickly and lead lives free from stress and anxiety.I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the victims of the disaster in the Tohoku and Kanto regions. I am a native of Iwaki and have been very familiar with the nuclear power plant since I was just a child. I found it very difficult to believe that the nuclear accident had actually occurred, but then I was presented with its evidence every day in clinical exams.Various rumors emerged and many of us were pained by the damage caused by the gossip and speculation. However, I was impressed by the strong commitment of the health care workers to aid patients in need, regardless of the circumstances. I was proud to count myself as one such worker and upheld this pride during my rounds. It is apparent that much more work lies ahead as we move toward recovery, but we health care professionals would like to offer all the energy we possess to be of assistance in the medical aspect of these efforts.I would like to offer my deepest condolences to all disaster victims. This event has led me to experience various emotions both as a person and as a medical intern. It has taught me just how blessed my world had been up to the time of the disaster. The services and functions that I had taken for granted were changed in an instant by the earthquake and replaced by confusion on all fronts. However, as a medical intern, I was also amazed at the capacity of the university hospital. Fortunately, the hospital itself was not significantly damaged. It reaffirmed my admiration for the strength and resilience of the facilities and the doctors working in each department. I was absolutely overwhelmed by the strength of the physicians rushing to help the emergency care patients on the day of the disaster. The situation was chaotic and heated far beyond any normal circumstances. While receiving the impression that these personnel were holding up the very tsunami damage and the evacuation order owing to the nuclear accident. They had little room mentally or emotionally for any talk explaining Sievert units or the physical impacts of the radiation on people. Because many of the evacuees were elderly and knew no one else in the shelter, I spent much time just listening to them talk, which was something that they had not done for nearly three days.In particular, possible further evacuation seems to have caused the most grief for families that had young elementary- or middle-school-aged children. The parents wanted to avoid evacuating too far away from their children’s schools, but also faced the dilemma of knowing that radiation effects are especially serious for younger people (meaning that the further away they evacuated, the better). In addition, there were people who had sons working at the nuclear power plant. Hence, they obviously did not want to be evacuated far away. Then, there were those who wanted to move far away but simply had nowhere to go.Many devoted people were working at the shelters to try and support these evacuees. The supporters were giving their service not because it was their job to do so but because they had a strong desire to offer help, and this was something that moved me greatly. The emotions evoked in me were not academic ones of benefit and loss but rather of pure admiration of the kindness and strength of people. I would like to continue to do as much as I can to lend my assistance to the recovery efforts.�Tomoki Saito, fourth year medical school studentMessages from Medical InternsYuki KannoFirst year intern; native of Fukushima Prefecture (Asaka Reimei High School)Akira TakamaFirst year intern; native of Fukushima Prefecture (Fukushima Prefectural High School)Yoichi KaneuchiFirst year intern; native of Fukushima Prefecture (Iwaki High School)Messages from Student Volunteers, Medical Interns, and Nursing School Students