Lecture at the 35th Academic Conference of Japan Academy of Nursing Science

2015/12/22

The Japan Academy of Nursing Science organizes an annual conference each year. In 2015, the 35th Academic Conference was held in Hiroshima on December 5 and 6. As part of the program, there was a relay of lectures entitled “Health effects from nuclear disasters and emergency response”. Masahito Yamazawa, Director General of Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Resource Center of the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS), gave one of the lectures entitled “Efforts for Nuclear Disaster Preparedness as a relief organization”.

Mr. Yamazawa explained in his lecture as follows:

(1) Even the JRCS, a relief organization, was not able to provide relief activities temporarily soon after the onset of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant accident (Fukushima Daiichi accident) due to lack of preparedness for necessary equipment/materials and safety standards for large-scale nuclear disasters;
(2) Based on the experience and regret of the response to the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the JRCS has worked on nuclear disaster preparedness following the 2011 IFRC* General Assembly resolution on "preparedness to respond to the humanitarian consequences of nuclear accidents" so that the JRCS can take a quick action for appropriate humanitarian assistance in the event of a similar disaster.

He referred to the following specific efforts that the JRCS has made:

(1) (In Fiscal 2013) Development of the “Manual for Relief Activities under Nuclear Disasters” for JRCS relief teams;
(2) (In Fiscal 2013) Deployment of protective equipment and materials for use during a nuclear disaster;
(3) (In Fiscal 2014) Starting of JRCS Nuclear Disaster Response Basic Training Session for physicians, nurses, radiological technologists and administrative staff working at Japanese Red Cross Hospitals across Japan and chapter staff, who are relief team members;
(4) (In Fiscal 2014) Assignment of radiation emergency medical care advisors who give advice in the event of a nuclear disaster to allow the JRCS relief team members to provide relief activities safely and appropriately.

He also mentioned the “Nuclear Disaster Guidelines for Preparedness, Response and Recovery” (Guidelines) which were developed in parallel with these efforts. (The Guidelines were issued in March 2015.) With the assumption of a wide range of activities by JRCS staff and volunteers, the Guidelines describe activities that should be taken in preparedness, response and recovery phases based on the experience of the Fukushima Daiichi accident. In relief activities during a disaster, it is essential to ensure the safety of responders. Therefore, safety standards are clearly stated in the Guidelines.

In conclusion, Mr. Yamazawa said: (1) JRCS psychosocial care is still provided in Fukushima mainly by JRCS nurses; (2) the JRCS will go forward with collaboration with related organizations in Japan and abroad; (3) the JRCS will work on several challenges which it still needs to consider.

* International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies