Impacts of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident on emergency medical service times in Soma District, Japan: A retrospective observational study

Tomohiro Morita, Masaharu Tsubokura, Tomoyuki Furutani, Shuhei Nomura, Sae Ochi, Claire Leppold, Kazuhiro Takahara, Yuki Shimada, Sho Fujioka, Masahiro Kami, Shigeaki Kato, Tomoyoshi Oikawa

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Abstract

Objective To assess the influence of the 3.11 triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident) on the emergency medical service (EMS) system in Fukushima. Methods Total EMS time (from EMS call to arrival at a hospital) was assessed in the EMS system of Soma district, located 10-40km north of the nuclear plant, from 11 March to 31 December 2011. We defined the affected period as when total EMS time was significantly extended after the disasters compared with the historical control data from 1 January 2009 to 10 March 2011. To identify risk factors associated with the extension of total EMS time after the disasters, we investigated trends in 3 time segments of total EMS time; response time, defined as time from an EMS call to arrival at the location, on-scene time, defined as time from arrival at the location to departure, and transport time, defined as time from departure from the location to arrival at a hospital. Results For the affected period from week 0 to week 11, the median total EMS time was 36 (IQR 27-52) minutes, while that in the predisaster control period was 31 (IQR 24-40) min. The percentage of transports exceeding 60min in total EMS time increased from 8.2% (584/7087) in the control period to 22.2% (151/679) in the affected period. Among the 3 time segments, there was the most change in transport time (standardised mean difference: 0.41 vs 0.13-0.17). Conclusions EMS transport was significantly delayed for-3months, from week 1 to 11 after the 3.11 triple disaster. This delay may be attributed to malfunctioning emergency hospitals after the triple disaster.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere013205
JournalBMJ open
Volume6
Issue number9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016 Sep 1

Keywords

  • Accident & Emergency Medicine
  • Disaster Medicine
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Fukushima Nuclear Accident
  • Public Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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    Morita, T., Tsubokura, M., Furutani, T., Nomura, S., Ochi, S., Leppold, C., Takahara, K., Shimada, Y., Fujioka, S., Kami, M., Kato, S., & Oikawa, T. (2016). Impacts of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident on emergency medical service times in Soma District, Japan: A retrospective observational study. BMJ open, 6(9), [e013205]. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2016-013205