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Tokyo to get more ambulances to deal with heat during 2020 Olympics

18 Comments

As a safety measure against a possible surge in heatstroke and heat exhaustion cases at next summer's Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Tokyo Fire Department is preparing additional ambulances and multilingual support for athletes and spectators.

During Tokyo's scorching summer of 2018, a record 8,295 people in the metropolitan area were taken to hospitals by ambulances for suspected heat-related illnesses.

While the organizing committee for the Games and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government are striving to mitigate heat risks for visitors, it is also necessary to plan for a scenario in which large numbers of people may require medical attention.

As both events -- the Olympics from July 24 to Aug 9 and the Paralympics from Aug 25 to Sept 6 -- fall with Japan's hottest season, the department aims to have sufficient ambulances standing by at athletic facilities and elsewhere.

The fire department has a total of about 260 ambulances. Typically, each new fleet is taken out of service after six years, with older ambulances kept in reserve for some time before being scrapped.

However, as a temporary measure for the Olympics, the department is considering holding on to older ambulances that would otherwise have been disposed of, thereby increasing the total number of vehicles.

It is also planning to increase the number of rescue workers available during the 2020 Games through additional overtime shifts and by cooperating with local fire departments.

The Olympics and Paralympics are also expected to draw a large number of foreign tourists to Japan. The number of visitors from abroad has been on the rise under the government's campaign to welcome travelers by easing visa requirements and other steps.

Tokyo ambulances transported 2,268 foreign tourists in 2017, as compared with 1,338 in 2013.

Following the launch of an interpretation center in July 2017, the department can now respond to emergency calls in five foreign tongues -- English, Chinese, Korean, Portuguese and Spanish.

Currently, more than 35 rescue squads include members who speak English, according to the fire department.

"We cannot let it happen that we're not able to catch up with the transfer (demand). We want to prepare an environment under which foreigners can stay without fear," a senior official of the fire department said.

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18 Comments
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"We cannot let it happen that we're not able to catch up with the transfer (demand). We want to prepare an environment under which foreigners can stay without fear," a senior official of the fire department said.

You and the rest of the country have a long way to go! Just having more ambulances is not going to do a hell of a lot when you wont be able to actually GET the the people in need fast enough, due to traffic jams that are expected, along with roads blocked off for use by the Olympics only.

Not to mention actually finding a hospital that will take the patients, particularly at night!

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Not to mention actually finding a hospital that will take the patients, particularly at night!

With current load, people already being refused by hospital although ambulance manage to get them on time, let's see then what will happen during olympic.

https://japantoday.com/category/national/cases-of-emergency-patient-refusal-by-hospitals-rise-to-over-16000

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Currently, more than 35 rescue squads include members who speak English, according to the fire department.

I'm curious about what level of English proficiency these members have. I fear it is not much passed. "I'm fine thank you. And you!" - Many of the train lines have introduced conductors and drivers who speak English, kind of. They read cards in their finest katakana English, which is close to understandable, only close. On paper Japan is making an effort to accommodate foreigners. However, just because some clown can read a card in an unintellgable katakana version of something like English does not mean they are taking it seriously.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

These are just taxis. The Health Policy Bureau needs to enable 1st responders, the heat, its going to be brutal on older tourists.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Agreed, they are just taxis, no paramedics to initiate treatment, vital minutes can be lost on the journey to an appropriate hospital who will accept the patient. The idea they will get already over worked and tired staff to man these vehicles shows how the problem is not being taken seriously. The preparation for the Olympics is just crisis management, there is little to no planning.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

As both events -- the Olympics from July 24 to Aug 9 and the Paralympics from Aug 25 to Sept 6 -- fall with Japan's hottest season, the department aims to have sufficient ambulances standing by at athletic facilities and elsewhere.

The average temperature in Tokyo between July 24 to August 9 was 32 degrees, not the hottest. People are overly concerned because this summer in a Tokyo during that exceeded 2~3degrees.

-9 ( +0 / -9 )

Too bad Esperanto wasn't employed, only 150 hours to learn and everyone visiting could also pick up a few easy phrases. Lots of Esperanto groups in Japan. Good temporary utility language. Then when the circus is over back to regular local programming.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )

@Disillusioned

How much Japanese can you speak? At least they're making an effort.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

Two weeks ago, 23,000 Japanese people were hospitalized for heatstroke and they weren't even exerting themselves. They probably weren't gathered within hordes of people either. Several died.

If the Olympics were to be held in July or August, do you think there will be enough ambulances to rush (and I use that word loosely) people to hospitals to be treated for heatstroke?

Push your government leaders to push Japan's leaders to move the Olympics to October.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

What are they planning to do about traffic? And why do ambulances here obey speed limits? It would be interesting to know how many people fail to reach hospital alive after being driven through traffic to the next hospital designated on the paramedic's list.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

You and the rest of the country have a long way to go! Just having more ambulances is not going to do a hell of a lot when you wont be able to actually GET the the people in need fast enough, due to traffic jams that are expected, along with roads blocked off for use by the Olympics only.

Not to mention actually finding a hospital that will take the patients, particularly at night!

This

And why do ambulances here obey speed limits? 

Actually I figured this out this morning when an ambulance wanted to cross an intersection. NO ONE STOPS. it is absolutely incredible. Cars just zip in front of the ambulance. Hence the slow speed

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The best solution seems all taxis become temporary ambulance to carry them to the nearest hospitals. Nearest taxi drivers can come quick and pick them up to hospital about 5-10 minutes, faster than regular ambulance coming and carrying them about 10-30 minutes.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

The best solution seems all taxis become temporary ambulance to carry them to the nearest hospitals. Nearest taxi drivers can come quick and pick them up to hospital about 5-10 minutes, faster than regular ambulance coming and carrying them about 10-30 minutes.

How is that a solution? How can the driver monitor the condition of the patient? How does he know which hospital will accept the patient? A really dangerous and naive suggestion.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

@Luddite

Ask patient choice of ambulance or taxi first. if patient is unconscious, call ambulance

If ambulance does not come soon and can not go soon through very congested streets/roads during Olympic games, patient might die there or in ambulance. Paramedic staffs are not medical doctor in the ambulance in Japan and but monitor and AED are installed in. Taxi doesn't have any monitor machine but can have AED (Automated External Defibrillator) and can take patient to the nearest hospital soon. Each taxi driver has list of about 5 hospitals in his area that he knows very well.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

for me what,s scary is that it,s guaranteed that people gonna need ambulances.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

More ambulance is not the solution to heat, moving the Olympics to late September Is!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

What good will it do if you end up without being treated at a hospital and likely (hopefully not...) left dry and high to the mercy of "you're on your own" dilemma.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

How much Japanese can you speak? At least they're making an effort.

They should be doing more than making an effort. Tokyo made a bid for the Olympics. Foreigners come to the Olympics. Do the job and do it right. Otherwise don't bid. Or is this whole gig just a farce?

How much Japanese foreigners speak is simply irrelevant.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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