By Greg Mitchell, USNH Yokosuka Public Affairs
ATSUGI, Japan – Commander Fleet Activities (FLEACT), Yokosuka’s Naval Hospital recently participated in the 2015 Big Rescue Kanagawa Disaster Prevention Joint Drill held in the city of Atsugi, Aug. 30.
The drill, coordinated by the Government of Japan annually, is an exercise created with the ultimate goal of ensuring emergency readiness, while showcasing the capabilities of all those involved in the event of a disaster.
Leadership in attendance included USNH Yokosuka Commanding Officer, Capt. Glenn Crawford and Executive Officer, Capt. Kristen Atterbury; Commander, 374th Medical Group, Yokota Air Base, Col. Angela M. Montellano and U.S. Army Medical Department Activities-Japan, Deputy Commander, Nursing Services, Col. Susan Argueta.
Host nation leadership consisted of Kanagawa Prefecture Governor, Yuuji Kuroiwa, Mayor of Atsugi City, Tsuneyoshi Kobayashi and Kanagawa Prefectural Assembly Chairman, Ryusuke Doi.
Several participating and cooperating organizations were present. Groups such as Municipalities, Japan Red Cross, Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF), Voluntary Disaster Prevention Organizations and Private Establishments, gathered together to battle against the mock scenario.
Deemed the ‘Capital directly under’ earthquake, its magnitude was 7.3, with its maximum Japanese Seismic Scale registering it as an upper 6. The scene comprised of a top-sided passenger bus, two damaged homes, a train station and two building facilities, each of which consisted of casualties.
The mission for all was simple; to effectively conduct emergency maneuvers while ensuring the safety of civilians.
“Our sailors have been training for several months on triage techniques, patient movement, litter carrying, loading and off-loading of patients from ground or air platforms,” said Lt. Cmdr. Loren Nedelman, USNH Yokosuka’s Trauma Treatment Team (T3) leader. “It culminated in receiving simulated execute orders from CNRJ through hospital leadership to respond to earthquake scenario via ground and air.”
Medical teams consisting of providers, Corpsman and Nurses worked alongside U.S. Army and Air Force teams as well Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces to begin treatment of simulated patients. Hospital administrators processed patients while Japanese staff liaison provided translations.
An added entity came in the form of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron Five One (HSM-51), simulating the flying in of two USNH Yokosuka hospital personnel and medical supplies.
Given Japan’s history of earthquake activity, the hospitals’ presence could possibly be a key contributor to support of those in need.
“It’s totally essential for us to be a part of something like this,” said USNH Yokosuka Emergency Manager, Jeff Sloan. “The community is there for us and we are there for them. Hospital vulnerability analysis earthquake is the number one risk. Practicing for that not only helps the community but also helps us to be more prepared.”
Corpsman saw the drill as a means to expand on their abilities while also learning local ways of emergency readiness.
“I thoroughly enjoyed this drill and the experience that it gave me,” said Hospitalman Alfred Lau. “I think the biggest challenge was the fact that there was a need for patience on both sides due to the language barrier, but I felt that all teams involved were able to effectively work through this to achieve our mission; to have a successful training evolution.”
Upon the completion of the drill, speeches from local government officials congratulated everyone on a job well done.
“From the standpoint of the leadership, it was overall considered a successful exercise,” said Sloan. “I look forward to next years’ event, which will be held at Ikego Housing Annex. Our fire department will be actively engaged, so it is going to be interesting to watch how they interact with the other emergency entities from the local community.”
Nedelman agreed with Sloan’s assessment.
“The exercise was a great success even though it was raining and all participants gained from being involved,” said Nedelman. “If a real world event does take place we are better prepared to execute and work with our host nation partners, and sister services medical departments.”
U.S. Naval Hospital, Yokosuka is the largest U.S. military treatment facility on mainland Japan caring for approximately 43,000 eligible beneficiaries.
For more news from U.S. Naval Hospital Yokosuka, visit www.navy.mil/local/nhyoko/