JMA Disaster Headquarters Status Reports

23:00, March 28, 2011

Observation Trip
On March 30, Dr. Masami Ishii, an Executive Board Member of the JMA and the officer in charge of emergency medicine, will be heading for the area (Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate and Ibaraki Prefectures) along with four staff members to observe the situation. Dr. Ishii is originally from the Iwaki City, which also suffered damages, and has been engaged in aid action there since soon after the disaster struck. This observation trip aims to gather a wide ranging overview of the reality in the disaster zone, in an effort for JMA to seek future direction of its JMAT initiative.

Faced by this unprecedented major disaster, the JMA intends to facilitate cooperation among the health professionals throughout Japan to protect the health of those in the disaster zone. For that purpose, we have extended the JMAT framework to allow many physicians and health professionals participate. We have expanded the scope of our injury insurance to non-member physicians and health professionals other than physicians. We also receive help from airline companies (JAL and ANA), making flying for the aid work free. Such initiatives were all discussed and have been implemented in the context of our seeking what we could do to help in this disaster.

Our actions are motivated by the purpose of developing a model system to prepare Japan for future disaster medical aid. If respective prefectural medical associations receive a request to be a part of the JMAT scheme from a medical team planning to be involved in medical aid actions in the disaster zone in a capacity outside the medical association such as university, medical organization or academic society, please register them as a JMAT from the prefecture concerned.

The JMATs are increasingly active. As of 15:00 today, 178 teams have been or are in action, and 119 teams are being made ready. Although the activity level is rapidly increasing, other organizations such as university and hospital teams are also sending aid into the disaster-affected prefectures, through mentorship connections at hospitals and individual connections between physicians. This has resulted in a duplication of aid efforts in some areas, needing some coordination.

On March 25, Miyagi Prefecture told us that, as a result of discussions between the prefectural officials and Miyagi Medical Association, enough aid was already in place as of the end of March, therefore, they would like to discuss coordinating aid efforts for April and beyond. The same applies to Iwate and Fukushima. The JMA has decided to observe the situation to plan JMAT actions in April and thereafter.

We also plan to call for collaboration with pharmacists, nurses, pediatricians and ophthalmologists, as these are the aid requests from the disaster struck areas.

JMA Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters
Since the beginning, JMA has run a 24/7 roster of officials to man and maintain the service of the JMA Disaster Countermeasures Headquarters. More than one officer was available all the time, and at least one person was working overnight. Now our emergency management work is on track, we will switch from a 24/7 roster to a night-time on-call system as of the end of March. Nonetheless, the headquarters will be operating 24/7, receiving inquiries.

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