Just our luck, as double Tsunami survivors, that on this short trip to Japan, one of the biggest typhoons ever to hit this country is blowing in now as I write. While I had a feeling something would go down, I didn’t think typhoon. Had my money on earthquake, actually. Japan is pretty earthquake prone as we saw with the recent Sandai quake and subsequent massive Tsunami. Hence, on the day we arrived here my wife and I went straight to the Tokyo Fire Department to take part in their earthquake simulator. It was only a 6 on the Moment Magnitude Scale, but it sure ain’t something you could sleep through.
More fun was meeting the men and women of the Japanese ambulance services who all look like manga comic characters. Seeing them in action on the streets of Tokyo is super thrilling. They speed around with helmets strapped tight and when they skid to a halt they jump out like cute little animations. Astroboys in bird-flu masks, that’s what they are. Wish now I’d done a chapter in my book on these manga medics. I did contact the service at the time, but was told the only way I could see these Japanese paramedics at work was by following them to jobs in a taxi. I mean really. What was I going to do, jump in a cab and tell the driver ‘Quick! Follow that ambulance! Yes, through the red! Go through! Go!’ I don’t think so.
Speaking of taxis, did you know the Tokyo Ambulance Service control room has a whole team of doctors and nurses employed to convince callers they don’t need an ambulance and to give them advice and direction on how to get to hospital by other means? As a result, around 75% of all emergency calls are managed without dispatch of an ambulance. And if an ordinary taxi won’t do, operators can book a caller a ‘support cab’ which are subcontracted taxis run by drivers with current first aid certificates. Love it! And I’m not surprised. Japan has got it’s act together when it comes to life saving. Maps of the city even have the location of every public Automated External Defibrillator (AED) marked just in case we happen to come across a cardiac arrest.
Hang on, I’m on holidays! There’ll be none of that, thank you.
Sayonara for now.