By Mayuree Sukyingcharoenwong
The Public Health Ministry is eyeing the operations of a model hospital in Japan with the intention of incorporating its disaster-management procedures into the Thai healthcare system, while Japan's Disaster Management Assistant Team (DMAT) is also being
The initiative follows the ministry’s September visit to Ishinomaki Red Cross Hospital in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture – the only designated disaster hospital within the Ishinomaki Medical Zone that was undamaged by the March 2011 earthquake off the Pacific Coast in Tohoku and the following tsunami.
Imamura Masatoshi, the hospital’s 402-bed administration division head, said the hospital’s management had learned a great deal from the 2011 tsunami and had now set up a disaster-emergency unit manned by a team of five permanent medical staff.
The team, who work alongside university experts and related agencies are not at the hospital to treat patients, but to research and gather information that will help formulate and streamline the hospital’s disaster-management procedures, explained Masatoshi.
“The tsunami disaster resulted in many injuries, hence the number of hospital beds and rooms were insufficient, forcing us to use the hospital’s lobby area to temporarily treat the injured. After that disaster, the hospital built a new building with 50 additional wards to support our operations – in case another disaster strikes,” Imamura added.
The hospital also annually arranges two major drills, each of which serves as a full rehearsal for disaster mitigation and patient evacuation, said Imamura, adding that some divisions of the hospital also held their own weekly drills to check their disaster readiness.
Deputy permanent secretary for Public Health Wachira Pengjuntr told The Nation during the visit that what was most essential during the time of disaster was the information provided to people to keep them alive while waiting for assistance.
He cited the Emergency Management “72-hour-kit” that the Japan government created to educate the public about how to survive for 72 hour after a disaster. Information included in the guidelines explains how to prepare for a disaster, the best escape routes, the safest places in an emergency, and medical considerations, among others.
Wachira claimed the guidelines were affective in assisting 90 per cent of those who used them during the 2011 tsunami, adding that Thailand had yet to develop Emergency Management guidelines.
Wachira also commented that Thai officials learned during the trip that some 500 hospitals in Japan were equipped with at least one DMAT team, which could reach a disaster scene in four minutes.
Each team comprised of 4-6 members including a doctor, nurses and paramedics, who could provide treatment right away, Wachira explained. Thai rescue teams had no doctors; hence treatment could only start when the patient reached the hospital.