Editor’s Note: An international ACEP member, Dr. Takashi Nagata, 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.
March 13, 2011 5:48:45 PM CDT
Dear colleagues in American College of Emergency Physicans,
I apologize you for my long absence. In the last 36 hours, I spent time for moving from my home town, Fukuoka, to the affected area.
I am working in Iwaki city, Fukushima prefecture now. Iwaki city is about 30 km away from the nuclear power plant, and so far, the city is not inside the red zone. The population of the city is about 340,000, and the land is 11,231,34 km2. More than 50 people were killed by earthquake or tsunami.
Based on the experience of Hurricane Katrina, we decided to do quick survey for the shelters in the city on March 13.
I visited 8 shelters on that day. The range of the people in the shelters is between 200 and 2700, and there is need for emergency medicine support. Many older patients lost their daily medications, and have several complaints.
The situation is not so critical, however, people are fatigued and nervous. At the same time, people understand their situation very well, and try to be calm. There was no panic or riot. The condition of the shelters are well-disciplined and managed. Food, water, and sanitation are provided well, but not sufficiently. On March 14, we will start working for them.
Regarding the situation in the city, water is not available. Electricity, internet, and wire communication are working to some extent. There are still minor to moderate earthquakes in the scene.
Compared with Iwate or Miyagi, where thousands of people are found to be dead, the damage of Fukushima prefecture and Iwaki city is not so serious. However, in addition to the damage caused by earthquake and tsunami, Fukushima is facing with the issue of radiation disaster. This is a complex disaster, and the decisions are very difficult to make.
I appreciate you for your proposals of the support. So far, it is difficult for us to coordinate the international aid teams now.
Although, the situation is complicated and critical, I think I am very proud of being Japanese and working as an emergency physician in the frontline. I will do my best for my country.
Please keep in touch.
Takashi Nagata from Iwaki-city, Fukushima, Japan