Survey for Japanese Red Cross personnel on their relief activities during the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster

Disaster Response HQ and relief teams discussed about activities
under the radiation environment (On the evening of March 13th at
the Fukushima Chapter)

The Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) provided various support to the affected areas including medical relief after the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami occurred. In Fukushima, the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant caused the nuclear disaster. We conducted relief activities as much as possible. However, the JRCS had never experienced a response to a nuclear disaster and there were constraints in our relief activities in Fukushima. We think that we need to review our experience and the work issues that we faced.

To make use of the experience in the future, we conducted interview surveys with the JRCS relief personnel involved in the relief activities in Fukushima to record their activities and put together the issues that they faced.

We will reflect these interview results when engaging in activities in the future.

(For more on the interview survey results, please visit the report page.)

Report on the relief personnel survey

Outline of the relief personnel survey results

The relief personnel’s views and evaluation of the relief activities after the earthquake

From the interviews and questionnaires given to the JRCS staff involved in the relief activities in Fukushima, their views and evaluations on the relief activities can be summarized as follows:

  • Many of the relief personnel think that they were able to conduct relief activities to a certain extent.
  • On the other hand, the ratio of those with the above view is lower than that of the relief personnel who worked in Fukushima shortly after the earthquake.
  • Most of the relief personnel think that they were able to provide relief activities to a certain extent, but there were issues.

Overall picture of the issues on the relief activities in Fukushima by each period after the nuclear accident

After the nuclear disaster occurred, we temporarily had constraints in conducting our relief activities in Fukushima. Possible factors and issues regarding the constraints are summarized in the overall picture below based on the views and opinions of the relief personnel and persons related to the JRCS.

The relief personnel’s views by each period on issues and JRCS strengths utilized in the relief activities

The JRCS was not able to temporarily provide enough relief activities in Fukushima because of the unexpected situation. Shortly after the earthquake occurred, the JRCS relief teams faced confusions. After the confusion period, the relief activities were stalled. However, from March 15, the JRCS gradually developed a system to steadily conduct relief activities. Between the confusion period and the steady period, the relief personnel faced issues and utilized the JRCS strengths as well. Those are summarized as below.

[Confusion period ~ Stagnant period] During these periods, the JRCS was not able to provide necessary and enough relief activities in Fukushima.

(1) What occurred: ・The relief teams were not able to provide enough medical examinations and treatments for evacuees who could have been exposed to radiation.
・The relief teams from outside Fukushima were forced to leave Fukushima. Dispatch of relief teams was temporarily discontinued.
(2) Factors of the constraints: ・There were many elements beyond expectations, which made it difficult to manage relief activities on site.
・It was difficult to secure safety of the relief team members.
・Lack of correct information on health effects (radiation exposure).
・Lack of nuclear disaster knowledge and protective gear/equipment.
・Insufficient preparations for the unexpected situation.
(3) The relief activities between the confusion period and the stagnant period were supported by: ・Flexible on-site response and action by the relief personnel.
・Network between the medical personnel and their information sharing

[Turnaround period ~ Steady period] During the periods, the JRCS was able to conduct relief activities continuously in Fukushima.

(1) What occurred: ・The JRCS continuously conducted relief activities such as mobile clinics mainly in the City of Fukushima and Aizuwakamatsu.
・The JRCS made it clear that their relief teams should not work within the 30km radius of the nuclear power plant.
(2) Factors which led to the continuous relief activities: ・The JRCS made clear its principles for relief activities under a radiation environment. Relief teams were able to re-start their activities following the principles.
・A system to secure safety of relief personnel was put in place: necessary equipment, advices by radiation specialists, etc.
・Information on health effects (radiation exposure) began to be available.
(3) The relief activities between the turnaround period and the steady period were supported by: ・Information from outside the JRCS and use of their activity rules.
・Necessary equipment was delivered, radiation specialists were sent to Fukushima.