Report: Improvements needed at evacuation shelters

JIJI

Legal measures are needed to improve living conditions at evacuation centers, a government report compiled Tuesday said.

About 50 percent of the deaths at evacuation centers set up after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami were caused by fatigue, and a government panel has been tasked with finding ways to prevent survivors from dying.

Ways to secure food, protect evacuees from temperature extremes, and establish health and medical care systems at the shelters should be stipulated by law, the panel said in the report.

At a news conference following the meeting, Reconstruction Agency Senior Vice Minister Yoshinori Suematsu said the government should prepare legal measures to keep evacuees healthy in light of various studies projecting future disasters.

Last year’s disaster survivors who had to live in evacuee shelters, often school gymnasiums and other large venues, now either live in state-funded temporary housing units or in other accommodations.

Tokyo special rescue team

Kyodo

Tokyo police will set up a special rescue team for deployment following disastrous quakes in the metropolitan area or for international aid missions, police officials said Wednesday.

The Special Rescue Team will consist of 35 elite members who engaged in rescue operations after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan or have expertise in using heavy machinery.

It will formally launch on Sept. 1, National Disaster Prevention Day, as the first unit of its kind formed among the prefectural police.

During disasters, SRT members will be able to assess the condition of the injured using electrocardiographic equipment and send live images to police headquarters through head-mounted cameras.

They will hone their skills while training other police officers so the metropolitan police force as a whole can improve its capacity to deal with possible disasters.

“It will be impossible to tackle disasters only with the 35 members,” said Koji Yagawa, a senior metropolitan police official involved in forming the SRT. “It is their most important duty to provide other officers and local residents with knowledge on disaster responses.”