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Both prevention and preparedness are essential to avoid casualties and deaths in mass gathering disasters (MGDs). What countermeasures should be taken?
Retrospective analysis of a MGD at Akashi City Fireworks Festival in 2001; discussion of countermeasures at Kobe Luminarie, an annual light festival to commemorate the Great Hanshin Earthquake. Retrospective analysis of mass casualty incidents (MCIs) between 2003 and 2022 in which the alert function of EMISHP (Emergency Medical Information System in Hyogo Prefecture) was activated. Duration from emergency call to activation of alert function (activation time), number of casualties, and number of destination hospitals were evaluated.
More than 200 persons were injured and eleven people died in the Akashi Fireworks crowd crush. The main cause of this MGD was lack of gateway control and one-way flow control of visitors. With such measures in place, no MGD has occurred at Kobe Luminarie. In the past nineteen years in Hyogo, the alert function has been activated for 288 MCIs, such as vehicle accidents and fires. Activation time ranged from 1 to 73 minutes (median value=12). The casualty count ranged from 0 to 662 (median value=5). The number of destination hospitals ranged from 0 to 54 (median value=2). In all cases, emergency medical coordinators at Hyogo Emergency Medical Center, a principal hub hospital for disasters, directly or indirectly contributed to the medical response, e.g. securing hospital capacity, dispatching doctor-attending cars/helicopters and other medical teams to the scene, sharing information on the MCI between fire departments and hospitals.
Prevention of MGDs requires taking proactive measures, such as gateway restriction and one-way flow control without bottlenecks. Preparedness is made possible by the alert function of EMISHP; it enables smoother patient transport to hospitals and contributes much in securing sufficient time and resources for medical response in MCIs, including MDGs.
Japan Disaster Medical Assistance Team (JDMAT) consists of four personnel. They are selected in 47 local governments in Japan, and after the completion of a four day boot camp, they are registered in the list of JDMAT. Hyogo Emergency Medical Center (HEMC) has been playing an important role as one of the oldest boot camps with Disaster Medical Center in Tachikawa. The boot camp's significance is obvious, but the JDMAT system requires a trainer for the course. Many courses were discontinued and affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Retrospective, single institute data, observed in the number of participants for instruction. The periods are from March 2019 to September 2022. Instructing members of this boot camp consist of three categories of Drs, Nurses, and logisticians.
In FY2019, from April to March during the pre-pandemic year, a boot camp was held nine times. During those days, the total number of instructors, including potential ones, was 659 persons, and fortunately 75 people participated for the very first time. However, during the Corona era, in FY2020, the boot camp was held only four times. The total number of instructors was 161 persons, and 14 people participated for the first time. In FY2021, the boot camp was held only three times. The total number of instructors was 141 persons, and 11 people participated for the first time. In FY2022, after two quarters passed, the boot camp was held five times according to the schedule. The total number of instructors was 256 persons, and 18 people participated for the very first time.
Officers were not trained for future disaster response for two years because of the pandemic.
The Asia Pacific Conference on Disaster Medicine (APCDM) started in 1988 in Osaka, Japan, and the 14th conference was held from October 16-182, 2018, in Kobe.
To give a rundown of the 14th APCDM and a proposal for WADEM.
Retrospective analysis of participants, the category of presentations, and deliverables.
With “Building Bridges for Disaster Preparedness and Response” as its main theme, the 14th APCDM was held near the epicenter of the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake in Kobe. The total number of participants was 524 from 35 countries, not only from Asia and the Pacific but also Europe and the Americas. Its program had 10 lectures by distinguished speakers such as WADEM Board members and WHO (World Health Organization), four symposia, two panel, oral and 99 poster presentations. “Preparedness” and “Education and Training” were the categories with the largest number of presentations. The presidential lecture outlined improvements made in Japan since the Great Hanshin Earthquake (disaster base hospitals, disaster medical assistance teams, emergency medical information system, and disaster medical coordinators) and emphasized the importance of standardizing components for better disaster management. This idea was echoed in symposia and round-table discussions, where experts from WHO, JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency), and ASEAN (The Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries discussed other components such as SPEED (Surveillance in Post Extreme Emergency and Disasters) and standardization of Emergency Medical Teams.
Each country in the disaster-prone Asia-Pacific region has a different disaster management system. However, participants agreed in this conference that we can cope with disasters more efficiently by sharing the standardized components, from both academic and practical points of view. APCDM must provide these deliverables to WADEM, so both conferences can cooperate and contribute to disaster preparedness and prevention in the new era.
For recent years, we often hear the words, “never experienced before” on a weather forecast in Japan.
To evaluate our response to “Heisei 30-year July heavy rain” in the Hyogo Emergency Medical Operations Center.
Review our actions taken and exchanges of views with local government representatives in a time-related manner compared with public announcements of evacuation/sheltering warning.
A specialized warning of heavy rain was announced at 10:50 PM on Friday by the local meteorological observatory. At 11:50 PM, the emergency management headquarters of prefectural medical response was established in the hospital, but a connection could not be established to 10 regional health centers for the weekend. Water levels of some rivers were increasing nearly to flood levels, and an evacuation order was announced to hundreds of thousands of people. This situation continued for a few days throughout many regions. The information of flood or landslide probability was continuously monitored, but an attempt was made to decide the timing of cancellations of standby.
An ordinary response to disaster depends on a clear turning point, such as the occurrence time. In heavy rainfall, there are two issues. One is about actions to prevent disaster and another is a recognition of geographic points or surface. Many critiques to the response focus on the judgments and actions for prevention before a critical event. Lessons learned included the importance of preventive actions along with a timeline and the judgment of restoration.