Editor’s Note: An international ACEP member has been giving real-time updates to the ACEP Disaster Section about the developing situation in Japan. He agreed to share the information with the emergency medicine community and will try to continue to provide updates when he can.
Friday, March 11, 2011 1:13 AM CST
Hello. I am Dr. Takashi Nagata, international ACEP member and a Japanese emergency physician working in the southern part of Japan.
Currently we are suffered from a sudden catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in the northern part of Japan.
The damage is still under investigation; however, it seems serious to see TV news.
Because I do not have enough information, I am not sure we need international disaster relief work; however, I would like to ask all the members in this mailing list to follow the situation.
Friday, March 11, 2011 3:18 AM CST
We are fine currently.
This earthquake and tsunami in Japan is the most serious in the past.
It mainly hit Tohoku area, the northern part of Japan main land.
In Miyagi prefecture and Iwate prefecture, they had quite serious damage.
There was a catastrophic damage caused by tsunami along Natori river in Miyagi prefecture and Port Kamaishi in Iwate.
In my impression, the damage of tsunami is more devastating than earthquake itself.
Tokyo was also attached; however, the damage seems relatively limited.
In Tokyo, the railway is stopped, and most businessperson (more than 1 million people) will have to stay in Tokyo.
People try to be calm. So far there is no major fire or building collapse.
According to national disaster plan, the medical response teams have started working.
However, the airports (Naneda international airport in Tokyo and Miyagi airport) are closed now.
So, the teams in the neighboring prefectures try to move by motor vehicles.
The teams in the remote areas are being stand-by.
I try to keep sending information.
Thank you for your kindness.
Friday, March 11, 2011 5:11 AM CST
It is night time now.
It is difficult for us to rescue and search for the victims, and we have to wait for the sunrise at least 10 hours.
As far as the media reports, the situation seems stable. Many hospitals are intact in the affected area.
And most people stay in the designated shelters. Food and electric power can be provided.
However, we do not know the whole impact of the earthquake and tsunami.
Military, police, fire, EMS and disaster medical teams have already been deployed to the scene.
There are 11 atomic power plants in the affected area, and so far, all of them are stopped automatically. So far there is no risk of radiation leakage.
Friday, March 11, 2011 7:50 AM CST
We estimate about at least 1,000 fatalities and 2,000 severe injuries in the affected area.
The access from the neighboring prefectures to the affected area is limited. And rescue/search activity does not work well.
Now the media reported that 200-300 drowning were found dead now.
The affected area, Tohoku, is next to Tokyo, and we would like to send teams from Tokyo to the front line; however, the hospitals are busy to work for the overcrowding mild patients in the urban area. So, we cannot afford.
We guess that the situation is like Tsunami in Asia, 2005 or Hurricane Katrina in 2006.
In addition to emergency disaster relief in the acute phase, I think we will need public health approach for the affected area in the long time.
Friday, March 11, 2011 8:52 AM CST
We still have tsunami repeatedly at night, and the most coast lines of Japan become alarm zone now.
The government issued the emergency of nuclear plant in Fukushima prefecture.
The system has already shut down the reactor and then caused problems with its cooling system. So far there are currently no reports of radiation leakage. Military and fire are working hard for it now. These power plants are located about 200 km away from Tokyo.
Now we have several major fires in several places. Rescue activity is quite difficult because of darkness.
In Kobe earthquake in 1995, about 6000 people died, but this occurred in the single prefecture.
This earthquake and tsunami attached multiple areas and regions in Japan.
It is sad to say, but this is the largest disaster we have ever had.
After 6 hours, we will have sunrise.