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31 May 2016
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Kyoto University Hospital dispatches DMAT, DPAT, and relief squads to Kumamoto (16 April-18 May 2016)

Kyoto University Hospital dispatched its Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) to Kumamoto from 16 through 20 April at the request of the Kyoto Prefectural Government, in order to provide assistance to people stricken by the recent earthquakes. The team was comprised of five KU Hospital staff: Medical Doctor Manabu Shimoto and Yutaka Harima of the Department of Primary Care and Emergency Medicine, Head Nurse Yaeko Hiramatsu, Deputy Head Nurse Chika Shinoura, and Director Masatsugu Nakamura of the Medical Service Department.

The team's operation included providing treatment for afflicted people inside and outside of the city of Kumamoto, and transporting patients to hospitals. As some members had provided disaster medical assistance in areas hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake as then members of DMAT, the team worked efficiently in Kumamoto by sharing their experiences. A debriefing session by the team was held after its return to Kyoto. A large turnout by hospital staff, counting more than 100, suggests how strongly hospital staff are interested in such activities.

KU hospital Disaster Psychiatric Assistance Team (DPAT) also carried out an assistance operation in the city of Kikuchi from 6 through 12 May. The team was comprised of three KU hospital staff: Medical Doctor Kosuke Tsurumi of the Psychiatric Day Care Unit, Psychiatric Social Worker Yuko Shimada of the Department of Psychiatry, and Nurse Fumiya Kume. Prior to dispatch, a send-off event was held on 2 May, where Professor Nobuya Inagaki, Director of KU hospital, encouraged the team by saying, "Please do your best to help disaster survivors with genuine empathy, as they are exhausted by the prolonged evacuation." Team members spoke of their determination to provide psychological support to local residents by utilizing their experiences from the hospital. They are also committed to relaying their experiences in the relief mission to hospital colleagues, so that all could better prepare for forthcoming disasters.

In addition, KU hospital staff joined the Kyoto Prefectural Government's fourth and fifth relief squads. A send-off ceremony was held on 6 May, attended by officials from the Kyoto Prefectural Government related to the relief effort, including Ms Junko Matsumura, Head of the Health and Welfare Department. Professor Inagaki expressed his hope that the squad members would provide the victims with significant assistance. Ms Matsumura then asked the squads to listen carefully to the voices of the afflicted, whose situations were changing moment by moment, and provide assistance matching their needs. The fourth squad was comprised of Medical Doctor Masataka Nishiga of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Nurses Fukiko Hyodo and Miki Urata, Pharmacist Takeo Yamagiwa, and Mr Ryo Ichitani, an operational coordinator from the Prefectural Government. The team operated a traveling clinic in the disaster-stricken areas from 7 through 13 May. The fifth squad, comprised of Medical Doctor Yuu Muta of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Nurses Momoko Sakaguchi and Atsushi Suzuki, Pharmacist Masayoshi Kawata, and Mr Hiroshi Yamamoto, an operational coordinator from the Prefectural Government, carried out aid operations from 12 through 18 May.

Director Inagaki, Director of Emergency Medicine Kaoru Koike, Director of the Nursing Department Tomoya Akiyama greeting DMAT members just returned from Kumamoto

KU hospital staff listening attentively to the debriefing by DMAT members

Director Inagaki and DPAT members prior to dispatch

Director Inagaki giving remarks to the relief squads

Ms Matsumura of the Kyoto Prefectural Government expressing her expectations for the relief squads

Members of the fourth and fifth squads along with executives of the KU hospital and officials of the Health and Welfare Department of the Kyoto Prefectural Government