The Nov. 20 Alice Gordenker column, “So, what the heck is that?” — about emergency announcements — reminded me of the strenuous efforts that a Tokyo Fire Department crew made when my mother died about four years ago, as well as the painstaking job of the TFD and some troubles it faces in doing its duties.
When I found my mother dead in her house — her heart had stopped — I called TFD. The operator told me how to do a cardiac massage. Soon the ambulance crew arrived and began a professional cardiac massage, even though it was clear that she had already died. Apparently Japanese law obliges the ambulance crew to treat any person as if he or she is still alive until a doctor ascertains otherwise. Five crew members were in charge of the cardiac massage, as the task must be conducted continuously.
Since I found her body on a Sunday evening, it was hard for the ambulance crew to find a hospital that would accept her body. After 20 minutes, they did find one. But it would only accept the body on condition that I agree to allow “terminal treatment” for approximately ¥15,000. This appalled me, but I grudgingly went along. It seems that the hospital did not want to do business on a Sunday evening if it cut into their bottom line.
The TFD ambulance crew, meanwhile, continued to perform cardiac massage until she was “hospitalized.” I appreciate the crew members’ efforts amid these nuisance arrangements. I believe that more flexible regulations would alleviate the burden on TFD crews.
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.