On the first day we attended a seminar on the basics of radiation and relevant history of Hiroshima, Chernobyl and Fukushima. Dr. Hasegawa also taught us how to use the Geiger Counter to measure radiation levels in the environment.
We measured ambient radiation levels outside as well as inside, and we found that dirt near the sewer contained the highest levels of radiation
We saw a helicopter take off and transport doctors and medical staff to the nuclear power plant to help a patient suffering from severe heat stroke
Later in the afternoon we attended a seminar on thyroid cancer. Dr. Kumagai demonstrated how to screen for thyroid cancer using an ultrasound, we took turns to examine each other’s thyroid glands.
On the second day of the program we learned how to respond to situations in which patients are exposed to radiation contaminants. Dr. Kumagai explained the different organizations that work together to ensure the safety of workers at the nuclear power plant.
We learned how to perform a triage in an event of a disaster and practiced the ABCD triage method on simulators and actors.
Next we participated in a simulation of a worker injury. We wore protective gear and learned how doctors manage patients that have been exposed to radiation contaminants and need urgent medical care.
We examined the patient simulator and listened to heart sounds with a disposable stethoscope.
We measured radiation levels at the wound and confirmed that it was contaminated. We cleaned the wound with water and disposed of the waste appropriately.
On the third day we visited a community center for families that evacuated after the nuclear reactor melt down.
We sang songs and interacted with young children at the community center.
We visited temporary housing for evacuees.
Doctors from Fukushima Medical University talked to mothers about their radiation concerns at the community center. We learned about their concerns of radiation levels in parks and local produce
On the fourth day we traveled to J Village, which is located 20km from the nuclear power plant and is the entry point for workers going to the nuclear power plant. The JFA medical center has been converted into the medical center for these workers.
Heat stroke is a serious concern for workers at the nuclear power plant during the summer. Workers work from early in the morning until early afternoon to avoid the sun, and they take breaks during the day.
A great deal of both effort and supplies are being put towards nuclear clean-up efforts. Concerns expressed by an executive at J Village were the unpredictability of the duration of this project and the availability of funds.
After visiting J village we visited the Noguchi Hideo museum and learned about the local history and culture
On the last day, we spent the morning at the Soma Area Kokoro no Care Center Nagomi. The Kokoro no Care team is building a new mental health care system to address the lack of mental health care resources in the area.
At Soma city Onodai No.1 Temporary Housing, we talked to elderly residents and measured their blood pressure
In the afternoon, we traveled to an area in Minami Soma that was damaged by the tsunami. This area was within 20km of the nuclear plant so it was not accessible until recently despite the low radiation levels
We walked near the ocean and witnessed the aftermath of the disaster
We visited a playground for the children of the tsunami stricken area that was built by volunteers. The owner of the land lost his son to the tsunami.
At the end of the week-long seminar, we receive certificates. It was a truly unforgettable experience.