FEMA urges Japan to form joint disaster unit

Japan should cooperate with the U.S. government and industry to form a unit like the American National Urban Search and Rescue Response system to improve reaction times to major disasters, the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency said Feb. 12.

The U.S. currently has 24 emergency response teams made up of local fire and emergency staff that can be deployed nationally in less than three hours, Clair Blong, the agency’s director of international partnerships, told a news conference. “We have found that these response teams are necessary to quickly mitigate a disaster and are essential in areas, such as Kobe, where the local staff has been overwhelmed by the (disaster) situation,” he said.

Blong is in Tokyo to participate in the U.S. Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Exhibition and Seminar, which is being held Feb. 13 and 14 at Sunshine City in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. The event is intended to highlight disaster response technology, equipment and medical services that have been developed in the U.S., Blong said.