Japan's Emergency Medicine Sector Post-Fukushima

Rhodalene Benjamin-Addy
February 6, 2019

Submitted as coursework for PH241, Stanford University, Winter 2018

JAAM's Role During the Fukushima Accident

Fig. 1: Building Damage at Fukushima. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Nuclear power plants have a certain responsibility to make sure the safety of their workers are on top of the priority list considering the volatile material and exposure from radiation that they experience on a daily. More importantly, there has to be a system in place when an accident does occur and because of the damaging nature of nuclear energy, the response of medical professionals has to be quick. The most important factor is communication between different entities that are working together to provide the quickest evacuation (Fig. 1) and care for people exposed. The Japanese Association for Acute medicine (JAAM) where able to integrate themselves into the larger cohort of the Japanese emergency system. They added 49 specialists that directed physicians to treat 261 patients that had multiple injuries. Only 8 patients were actually exposed to external/internal contamination and they all did not develop acute radiation syndrome. The rest of the patients where observed for further tests and did not develop the syndrome as well. [1]

Effects on the Japanese Emergency Medicine Sector

Speaking to the earthquake incident that happened at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power plant, in 2016, the plant had goals for healthcare measures that they hoped to implement into their company which included medical examinations, checking each workers conditions before the start of each work day for symptoms, and think about employees that have preexisting heart diseases and providing them preservation care. The effectivity of immediate physicians and post treatment was taken into consideration following this accident. [1]

Learned Emergency Care Information Post-Fukishima

The lessons learned from the Fukishima Accident was that there needs to be more government assistance in providing first line physicians, designation of roles between the fire department and medical facilities and conduct emergency drills for preparation on refinement of methodology, development of a base that is at a safe distance from the plant and a way of creating a tent where care can happen, and providing provisions such as food and water during these times. [2] Because of the effects of Fukishima, the Japanese government have had to think about how there will be better systems in place for communication and availability of infrastructure near the plants. The next questions on healthcare access are how much companies around the world are investing in preventative healthcare for the workers. The Labor department is unclear in terms of why there is issue with sick workers getting compensated with some . There is argument that contractors are being profited at the expense of the ensured safety of the workers. [3] The next steps is to figure out better strategies for provide higher quality and fair healthcare access to these worker.

© Rhodalene Benjamin-Addy. The author warrants that the work is the author's own and that Stanford University provided no input other than typesetting and referencing guidelines. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.


[1] N. Morimura et al., "Emergency/Disaster Medical Support in the Restoration Project for the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant Accident," Emerg. Med. J. 30, 997 (2013).

[2] S. Yasui, "Lessons Learned: Medical and Health Care Management for Emergency Workers at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi APP Accident.," J. Occup. Environ. Hyg. 11, D49 (2014).

[3] P. Cary, P. Malone, and R. J. Smith, "These Workers' Lives Are Endangered While Contractors Running Nuclear Weapons Plants Make Millions," USA Today, 26 Jun 17.