FUKUSHIMA Lives on the Line

79chap.IIFukushima Medical University Record of Activities [Notes and Messages]FUKUSHIMA: Lives on the Lineworld about it.I will do all that I can to save the life of even one more person and bring an early return of peace that will spread throughout Fukushima and Japan.Daily anxiety continues for Fukushima, which had up to now never experienced an earthquake, tsunami, or nuclear accident of this magnitude. I listen to news reports saying how many lives are being lost every day and feel a strong sense of guilt because I live in the very same Tohoku/Fukushima area, but I am not suffering in any of these ways. Wondering whether there was anything that I could contribute myself, I started participating as a volunteer, making rice balls for the doctors and the FMU staff. The college campus that I had become accustomed to over four years was now filled with so many patients that the hospital staff had to work without sleep or rest. Making rice balls was a very small contribution. However, although it was only a small gesture, I wanted to do everything I could in the belief that it would somehow aid the recovery of Tohoku and Fukushima.The experience of this disaster made me even more aware of the importance of our health care system for saving and supporting the lives of people. I would like to use this experience as a valuable asset while I diligently work toward a brighter future that will surely come.Messages from the Nursing School StudentsParticipated as a Student VolunteerShion TakenakaFourth year nursing school studentDuring the disaster, I was tasked with accepting patients into triage in the hospital’s general admittance area. Because we were accepting emergency intensive care patients as well as general emergency outpatients, there were two stages of triage at the hospital entrance. The first things we did were to ask incoming patients whether they lived in the nuclear power plant accident evacuation zone or in the areas designated as “stay-at-home” cautionary zones, and screen the patients for radiation. We also sorted them into categories such as those who needed examination, those who came to visit hospitalized patients, and those who came to escort discharged patients. Although it was very run of the mill, this sorting system was instrumental in making the disaster medical response as organized as possible.I felt that the radiation screenings were of great help in alleviating the anxiety of patients, showing them that there was nothing abnormal and allowing us, the staff, to go about our work with peace of mind. I must bow my head in admiration of the victims who are so resolute despite the exhaustion that they face. I felt the true spirit of Fukushima Prefecture’s residents and developed a feeling of camaraderie in the face of difficulty when I went about my work tasks that required cooperation and compromise from visitors to the hospital (for example, having to send our regular visitors to outside locations to have their prescriptions filled).I have received training over many years from the Japanese Red Cross as a member of their disaster relief team; therefore, I was able to handle my triage assignment without much difficulty. In addition, we had conducted exercises in anticipation of a possible accident at the Rokkasho nuclear waste management facility; however, this was my first experience of having to put that training into practice. I think that FMU Hospital’s efforts to respond to this extraordinary disaster and radiation accident will be a valuable experience for supplementing the region’s medical infrastructure in the future. The process has taught us the critical importance of performing triage on patients being transported out of the disaster area, at a point mid-way between the hospitals; this was done with the help of DMATs from other prefectures. It is my belief that the knowledge behind FMU Hospital’s calm, speedy, and measured response to this disaster is something that should be communicated and shared with the outside world.Participated in the Disaster Medical Response (General Emergency Triage)Asako MiuraCancer care nurse in the Nursing School and Nursing Department of FMU Hospital; native of Aomori Prefecture