Hiroshima University ready to provide treatment to those affected by radiation

by Takuya Murata, Staff Writer

On March 15, Hiroshima University’s Radiation Emergency Medicine Promotion Center in Minami Ward, Hiroshima, concluded its talks with other concerned entities, including Hiroshima Prefecture, in connection with preparations to accept potential patients who have been affected seriously by radiation in the vicinity of the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. Airplanes of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) will carry these patients to the Hiroshima Prefectural Hiroshima Nishi Airport in Nishi Ward or other locations, and they will receive treatment at Hiroshima University Hospital in Minami Ward.

At first, such patients will be taken to the Fukushima Medical University in the city of Fukushima, a secondary radiation emergency medical institution. Patients who have developed acute symptoms due to exposure to a massive dose of radiation will be transferred to Hiroshima University’s Radiation Emergency Medicine Promotion Center or the National Institute of Radiological Sciences in the city of Chiba, which are both tertiary radiation emergency medical institutions.

When Hiroshima University’s Radiation Emergency Medicine Promotion Center accepts these patients, they will be transferred to the Hiroshima Nishi Airport, the Hiroshima Airport in the city of Mihara, or the U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Yamaguchi Prefecture, by SDF airplane. The patients will be then brought into Hiroshima University Hospital by ambulance or helicopter. The possibility also exists that the patients will be flown directly to Hiroshima University Hospital from the affected areas by helicopter.

Hiroshima University Hospital will ensure preparations which enable the hospital to provide treatment to four patients with severe symptoms and four patients with moderately-severe symptoms. When the number of patients exceeds the university’s assumptions, the university will request six hospitals, including the Hiroshima Prefectural Hospital in Minami Ward and the Hiroshima City Hospital in downtown Hiroshima, with which it has concluded a cooperation agreement, to accept one or two patients respectively.

In 2004, Hiroshima University was appointed as a tertiary radiation emergency medical institution by the Japanese government, following the criticality accident at the Tokaimura nuclear facility in Ibaraki Prefecture in 1999. The university established the Radiation Emergency Medicine Promotion Center at the time. The center, as the base for medical treatment for radiation victims in western Japan, plays a role in accepting patients severely affected by nuclear accidents, among other nuclear-related accidents, and providing treatment to these patients. Kenji Kamiya, director of the Radiation Emergency Medicine Promotion Center, said, “Our mission is to make all necessary preparations.”

(Originally published on March 16, 2011)

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