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  • Preparedness for a complex disaster including a nuclear disaster
    – Disaster drill by simulating a severe accident at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga Prefecture –

Preparedness for a complex disaster including a nuclear disaster
– Disaster drill by simulating a severe accident at the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant in Saga Prefecture –

2016/11/14

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami caused an unprecedented huge disaster due to the large earthquake, the big tsunami and the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. This type of disaster is called a complex disaster. Since then, people have been becoming more aware of self-disaster prevention and more practical community-based disaster drills have been held throughout Japan.


Reception of evacuees and
contamination screening. (Drill)

Reception of evacuees and contamination screening. (Drill)

On October 10, 2016, a large-scale nuclear disaster drill took place in Saga Prefecture in cooperation with Fukuoka and Nagasaki Prefectures. If a nuclear disaster occurs, large-scale evacuations including sheltering in place are expected. This drill was conducted based on each disaster management plan prepared by Saga Prefecture, Genkai Town, Karatsu City and Imari City. Exercises held during this large drill were about a secondary radiation emergency medical care screening for radioactive contamination at exit points from evacuation areas, sheltering in place by the public including residents in communities and social welfare facilities and school students, etc.


Decontamination of a contaminated car by
the Self-defense Force. (Drill)

Decontamination of a contaminated car by the Self-defense Force. (Drill)

During the exercise for screening at an exit point from an evacuation area, community residents who temporarily evacuated from their living area after an evacuation order for the exercise was issued. The residents and their vehicles were screened. If the screening detected radioactive contamination, the residents and vehicles would undergo decontamination. During the exercise, these procedures were confirmed.


Local residents learning about how to run
an evacuation center. (Drill)

Local residents learning about how to run an evacuation center. (Drill)

At an assumed evacuation center, make-shift rooms and space were made to nurse babies, respond to people requiring nursing care and provide health consultation by regional public health nurses. These measures are to respond to the needs that are expected to emerge at evacuation centers in an initial phase of a disaster. During the evacuation exercise, people were told to wear masks and gloves in consideration of protecting them from radiation. After arriving at the assumed evacuation center, the exercise participants worked on an evacuation centre simulation game (only in Japanese) together with accredited disaster management providers to learn how to run an evacuation center by simulating people staying in the evacuation center.

Exercise for the secondary radiation emergency medical care –Role of Japanese Red Cross Karatsu Hospital and the challenges-



A special building for radiation emergency care
of the JRC Karatsu Hospital.

A special building for radiation emergency care of the JRC Karatsu Hospital.

In August of this year, the Japanese Red Cross (JRC) Karatsu Hospital started its operation in its new hospital building. The hospital is located in a UPZ* which is within the 30km area from the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant (Genkai NPP). The hospital is designated as a secondary radiation emergency hospital by the Saga Prefectural Government. On the hospital premises, a special building for radiation screening and radiation emergency care was built. The hospital has two special teams for radiation emergency medical care, which are always on standby. Each team consists of two physicians, three nurses, two radiological technologists and two administrative staff members.

* Urgent protective action planning zone: In this zone which is located within a radius of 30km from a nuclear power plant, public authorities take protective actions or issue phased order to communities such as sheltering-in-place and evacuation.

* Urgent protective action planning zone: In this zone which is located within a radius of 30km from a nuclear power plant, public authorities take protective actions or issue phased order to communities such as sheltering-in-place and evacuation.


Hospital staff working on protection of the
hospital facilities to prevent spread of
radioactive contamination. (Drill)

Hospital staff working on protection of the hospital facilities to prevent spread of radioactive contamination. (Drill)

The simulated case for this secondary radiation emergency medical care exercise was about providing decontamination treatment to an injured person with radioactive contamination due to an accident at the Genkai NPP and transporting the patient to an advanced radiation emergency medicine support center of the Nagasaki University Hospital. This exercise was conducted in cooperation with the university hospital.


Decontamination procedures for a
contaminated injured person. (Drill)

Decontamination procedures for a contaminated injured person. (Drill)

The following description is about the exercise:
After an outset of an earthquake, a person was injured and contaminated with radioactive materials due to an accident which occurred at the Genkai NPP. The JRC Karatsu Hospital was asked to accept the injured person. A stand-by hospital special team and other hospital staff worked together and protected the patient’s traffic flow inside the hospital, a treatment room and necessary equipment. Then each member of the special team put on a protective suit and confirmed information on the injured person. They were ready for accepting the patient. Firefighters transported the patient and the hospital team started decontamination procedures and provided emergency treatment. However, the radiation dose of the patient’s contaminated body areas was not lowered. The team decided to transport the patient to the advanced radiation emergency medicine support center of the Nagasaki University Hospital. The transportation means were ensured via the Saga Prefectural Government and the patient was transported to the university hospital.

After the patient was transported to Nagasaki, the protection materials of the contaminated hospital equipment and facilities were removed. Then the team members and the used equipment were screened for radioactive contamination. This concluded the exercise.

During the exercise, the actual hospital facilities were used to check the traffic flows of patient transportation and team members inside the hospital. This exercise made the members recognize that if many radioactively contaminated injured or sick patients were transported to the hospital in the event of a nuclear accident, it would be very important to assess the conditions of the patients. As a hospital within the UPZ, the JRC Karatsu Hospital will review its whole disaster management plan including an evacuation plan in the event of a nuclear disaster.

JRC hospitals designated as radiation emergency hospitals by public authorities


As of October 2016, 11 JRC hospitals including the JRC Karatsu Hospital are designated as radiation emergency hospitals. These hospitals and three other nuclear-disaster related JRC hospitals are preparing for nuclear disasters.

In August 2015, for the purpose of strengthening medical examinations for sick and injured persons who might be exposed to radiation and enhancing cooperation among related hospitals in a complex disaster caused by large natural disasters, the Japanese government revised its relevant guidelines. The revised guidelines state that medical institutions which fulfil given requirements will be designated as nuclear disaster core hospitals. Following the guidelines, some of the JRC hospitals including the hospitals mentioned above are expected to be designated as the nuclear disaster core hospitals.

Response to and preparedness for nuclear disaster by JRCS


To prepare for nuclear disasters, the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) are now addressing four pillars: (1) ensuring the safety of JRCS responders; (2) strengthening the structure for nuclear disaster response; (3) education/training for its staff; and (4) gathering/disseminating information.

To implement them, the JRCS has developed its “Manual for Relief Activities under Nuclear Disasters” and “Nuclear Disaster Guidelines for Preparedness, Response and Recovery”, shared information on nuclear disasters via the Digital Archives of the Red Cross Nuclear Disaster Resource Center and organized JRCS Nuclear Disaster Response Basic Training Sessions for JRCS relief teams who engage in relief activities also in the event of a nuclear disaster. In addition, for JRCS relief teams to provide relief activities safely and appropriately in a radiation environment, the JRCS has assigned some of medical personnel working at the radiation emergency hospitals mentioned above as radiation emergency medical care advisors.

For further details, please visit Preparedness for nuclear disasters by the JRCS.