Japan rescue efforts continue
Photo: AP

Actinometers in hand – IDF medical team heads for Japan

Delegation heading out to ruins of coastal town that lost half its residents to massive tsunami waves two weeks ago. 'We'll remain there for as long as needed,' says delegation chief

The Defense Ministry announced Friday that a delegation leaving for Japan will be carrying 80 tons of humanitarian aid, including 60 tons of medical supplies which will allow Home Front Command forces to establish a field clinic in the tsunami hit area.


Moreover, the Defense Ministry will be sending 20 tons of equipment to residents left homeless in the disaster – including coats, gloves, blankets and portable toilets valued at millions of shekels.


The IDF medical delegation to Japan's tsunami disaster area is set to complete its final preparations ahead of its departure for Tokyo Saturday night, from where the team will continue 350 kilometers (217 miles) north to the ruins of the coastal town which lost half its residents, 8,000 people, to the massive waves. The survivors have been left with no roof over their heads, shelter or aid.


Most of the survivors who have been sheltering in the town's only concrete structures are children and senior citizens, as the younger residents have fled south. The military delegation, which is travelling on behalf of the Home Front Command and Medical Corps, will include 60 members, among them doctors from a number of specialties: Urology, orthopedics, surgeons, gynecology, pediatrics, general practitioners and Home Front Command personnel.


The delegation, which is set to be the first received by the Japanese, will begin its operations next Tuesday after completing the construction of the Israeli field clinic in the coastal town. The preliminary preparations have already been completed in the field by an IDF team that left for Japan earlier this week.


The military doctors are expected to provide aid to thousands of survivors using the medical equipment they are bringing with them from Israel, which includes ultrasounds, X-rays, labs and advanced computerized systems. In addition, their uniforms and equipment will be adapted to the climate and harsh weather conditions expected in the area.


Ready to evacuate

"Japanese doctors who were left with little or no infrastructure will be offered the use of our equipment as well," the deputy chief of the delegation and IDF Chief Medical Officer Colonel Dr. Ophir Cohen-Marom explained to Ynet. "Right now we are set to remain there for a few weeks but we will continue to stay there for as long as we're needed, even if it means replacing the first force with a new force."


He added: "We will act as an essential medical anchor, just like Israel knows to offer. It needs to be understood that Japan is a very advanced country and is recovering nicely, but we will study their needs and offer aid as required. To the best of my knowledge, we are the first organized delegation leaving for Japan following their refusal of other offers."


As for the fears of absorbing active radiation, Dr. Marom-Cohen explained that the delegation is prepared: "We will have a doctor that specializes in radiation on the team and each member of the delegation will be carrying a personal actinometer to measure radiation, in addition to up-to-date sketches with the region's radiation levels.


"In any case, we are ready to evacuate immediately if the radiation reaches dangerous levels, and any patients we identify to be suffering from radiation will be evacuated to specialized hospitals."


Commander of the national rescue unit Brigadier General Shalom Ben-Arieh stated: "The IDF delegation to Japan will take part in restoration efforts through cooperation between the Home Front Command and the Medical Corps - with participants who are the salt of the earth of Israel's regular and reserve forces."


Hanan Greenberg contributed to the report



פרסום ראשון: 03.25.11, 11:13
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