U.S. Makes a Big Splash at Big Rescue 2014
ODAWARA, Japan – U.S. military medical forces joined 135 U.S. and Japanese disaster relief organizations in the Kanagawa Prefectural Government’s third annual “Big Rescue” Disaster Prevention Joint Drill at Sakawa-gawa Sports Park Aug. 31, 2014.
The two- hour exercise was conducted to strengthen communication between relief organizations and to practice essential rescue techniques.
“When a disaster happens people have to work together to create a good network. We conduct this drill to prepare for such an event,” said Katsushi Okazaki, Kangawa Prefecture executive director of Crisis Management.
U.S. forces involved in the event included Sailors from Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Soldiers from Camp Zama’s Medical Department Activities (MEDDAC) Japan, and Airmen from the 374th Airlift Wing.
The U.S. medical personnel worked with their counterparts from the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMAT), and Red Cross to set up makeshift hospital tents and provide medical assistance to the simulated victims. Communicating through translators, U.S. and Japanese medics performed triage, gave intravenous fluids, and bandaged the victim’s simulated wounds.
“It is important to work with the Japanese in a drill setting to help work through the language barriers that could potentially be a problem in a real disaster” said Lieutenant Melinda Swayne, team leader of Yokosuka Naval Hospital’s Emergency Trauma Treatment Team. “This drill also gets us out of the lecture hall looking at power points and into the field getting some great hands-on experience.”
The drill was executed as though a 7.0 earthquake had struck the city damaging many important structures. Some events included volunteers putting out fires with hand-held extinguishers; rescue teams removing victims from collapsed buildings; and a simulated five-car pile-up. Aircrew from the “Warlords” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 51 delivered supplies to victims.
“We have seen some good team building between JMSDF medical teams, U.S. military medical teams, and DMATS but we hope to continue getting better as we continue to run Big Rescue in the future” said Okazaki.
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