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Keywords:

  • Communication Pathways;
  • Decontamination;
  • Disaster Planning;
  • Fukishima Dai-ichi Disaster;
  • Nuclear Emergency Response;
  • Nursing;
  • Radiation Skill Sets

Background

The Great East Japan Earthquake on 11 March 2011 caused considerable loss of life, destruction of livelihood and infrastructure. Linked to this event but not its cause, was the meltdown and radioactive contamination of the environment from Fukishima Dai-ichi power plant. This disaster, in turn, led to the enforced evacuation of populations at risk. Japanese nurses, physicians, paramedical staff and faculty from nearby universities all volunteered to staff decontamination centres for evacuees and survivors.

Aim

This commentary critically reflects on the insights provided in this issue by Noto, Kitamiya, Itaki, Urushizaka & Yamabe (pp. 196–200) on the role of nurses in the Fukishima Dai-ichi disaster, extending that critique to evidence that has emerged through official and unofficial sources.

Discussion

Disaster planning is not a popular subject for societies in general nor is it a finite art or process. Civil authorities often work under restricted or reducing budgets and resources while serving increasing demands. Disaster planning requires multidisciplinary skills sets to be able to work across the many different departments, agencies, interest groups and budgets. Planners need to think outside the box, allocate resources and training to a level that justifies known and/or projected threats in preparing first responders with the correct tools, training and time to practise skills they may never be called upon to use.

Conclusion

Disasters will always happen be they natural or man-made. To rely on the courage and selflessness of professionals is not enough. Training and learning from previous disasters can help in responsible planning.