FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

78to receive. Thank you so very much.FMU Hospital is a base for medical care in Fukushima Prefecture and a facility for tending to intensive care patients. We accepted and triaged patients from Fukushima City as well as those brought by helicopter from the Soso area. All medical interns were assigned to the Emergency Medicine Department and worked shifts as part of the 24-h clinical response. As of today, the tenth day after the earthquake, the hospital has recovered its basic functions and we are gradually handling this critical phase of the disaster. However, to be honest, it is uncertain when normal daily life will return because of the compound effects of this unprecedented earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear accident. Numerous people in Fukushima, including those who have evacuated, are in need right now and require continuous attention from health care professionals. Now more than ever, we have to aid one another and I would like to continue to do my utmost as part of my goal to become a doctor who is helpful and supportive of others.First, I would like to express my heartfelt condolences to all people involved in this disaster. Ten days have now already passed since the earthquake itself. Immediately after the quake struck, all medical interns were assigned to the Emergency Medicine Department. We tended to the various patients who arrived after being injured by the tsunami, after working at the nuclear power plant, or after being sent from other hospitals along the coast where the evacuation order was in effect. Although FMU had a shortage of supplies, we tried to focus on each task at hand in order to continue examining and treating patients with our limited resources. At present, the hospital is regaining some of its utilities and we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.I had no idea that I would be right in the middle of the medical response to this major disaster. However, I believe that we were able to get through the ordeal with limited confusion owing to the amazing capacities of the FMU staff and the system that we have in place for regular patient care in the ER.There is still unease over the nuclear accident, but I am not greatly troubled, having made an objective judgment based on the available data. This has been an opportunity for me to relearn some important aspects of radiation. The earthquake was an exceedingly heartrending event, but I would like to work as hard as I can as we move toward the future.My deepest sympathies go out to all victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake.My mother’s hometown is along the Sanriku Coast in Iwate Prefecture. The seaside area of her town was obliterated by the tsunami. I heard that my grandmother barely escaped with her life and watched from high ground as our old family home was swept away. I shiver in fear as I think of the people who faced this disaster, their lives, their livelihoods, the destructive force of the tsunami, and the vast damage it caused.In this case, Fukushima Prefecture was also thrust into the abnormal state of dealing with a nuclear accident on top of the disaster. In the medical response to all of this, a confused mass of information emerged. Each of us interns was given an individual choice regarding whether to stay or not. But on seeing my elders working on the front lines without rest or sleep, I was moved to try and offer what little assistance I could.Amidst these extreme circumstances, I felt the strength of human will and kindness as the professors and staff looked after us interns. Moreover, I was encouraged by the strong bonds that I formed with the other interns as well.I am also deeply grateful to those who delivered supplies to us as we struggled to keep lifelines to the hospital open. I was reminded of all the things that I had taken for granted. I was grateful to them and my attention was brought to the number of people whose support and labor go into making this hospital functional.Now, the town is slowly starting to creep into action again. Everyone is going to great lengths to recover the normalcy that we once had. In addition to the effort required for Fukushima Prefecture to make recovery, we also have to fight the wave of rumors and anxiety surrounding the nuclear power plant and its uncertain future. Now, each of us is called upon, not just as medical professionals but also as individuals, to obtain accurate information and form correct judgments.However, nothing has changed for us in our desire to be good doctors and help the patients who stand before us. I feel that we can overcome this unprecedented disaster and fulfill our role to accurately educate the Tomohiro KikuchiFirst year intern; native of Fukushima Prefecture (Asaka High School)Reiko OkuboFirst year intern; native of Akita Prefecture (Odate Homei High School)Messages from Student Volunteers, Medical Interns, and Nursing School Students