6,000 injured are likely to die untreated in the severe quake in Tokyo


A major earthquake that hits Tokyo isn’t a matter of guesswork, just a matter of time, say experts, who predict a larger quake will strike below the metropolitan area within 30 years.

An estimate made for such an event assumes that, in addition to a high number of fatalities, at least 6,000 injured would die because they cannot receive medical care in time.

A team of researchers, mostly from the Nippon Medical School, released a scenario of probable fatalities involving people in urgent need of hospitalization after a tremor measuring 7 or greater occurred just below the capital.

An inland earthquake of this magnitude would be comparable to the great Hanshin earthquake of 1995, which killed 6,434 people, and the 2016 Kumamoto earthquakes, which killed 276 people.

The central government estimates that 23,000 people will perish in and around Tokyo Prefectures of China, Kanagawa and Saitama when a magnitude 7.3 quake hits the area. The Tokyo metropolitan government estimates that around 20,000 were injured in the capital.

The researchers ran computer simulations to estimate how the 20,000 injured would receive adequate medical care in the nine days following the earthquake.

According to the study, 25 percent of all injured residents of the capital would die because they could not receive the necessary treatment. with the proviso, however, that if the total number of injuries were reduced to 40 percent of the projected number, the number of such deaths could be reduced to almost zero.

“The vague picture of many injuries leading to an urgent medical situation was clearly presented using numerical data,” said Akira Fuse, professor of disaster medicine at the school, commenting on the significance of his team’s findings. “The goal of eliminating fatalities from untreated injuries could be achieved Reduce injuries to 40 percent of forecast.”

If that The Great Hanshin Earthquake devastated the port city of Kobe and surrounding areas in Hyogo Prefecture. Around 500 people reportedly died due to lack of hospital treatment as local medical centers were flooded when those facilities were damaged by the quake.

The disaster prompted the central government to designate earthquake-proof hospitals, which would play a key role nationwide disaster relief.

The transport was also planned Patients to medical centers outside of disaster-affected regions.

In the latest computer simulations, people would be injured initially triaged at the nearest hospitals or facilities as possible, so those in need of immediate life-saving treatment are transferred to one of the government’s 84 central medical facilities in the capital.

Those with less serious injuries would be sent to the 136 mid-level hospitals selected by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government.

But even after sending, ppatients would eventually succumbed to their injuries, the study found.

In the nine days following the quake, an estimated 6,272 of the 20,000 people predicted to have been injured would have died because they did not receive adequate medical treatment.

And of the 6,272, about 5,000 would have died before being treated in the government-designated and Tokyo-selected hospitals, and 1,212 would have died in Tokyo-selected hospitals before beds became available, or were transferred to government-designated centers , where help was provided according to computer simulation was available.

Eighty percent of the 6,272 deaths would be midLevel hospitals selected by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government. This is largely because hospitals would be swamped with hordes of patients, making it difficult for the limited staff and ambulances to get those in urgent need of treatment to the central hospitals.

The team repeated their simulations by changing the projected number of available hospital beds, ambulances and helicopters, but the different settings didn’t result in dramatic improvements in the total number of deaths or the untreated death rate.

In a scenario in which 700 Disaster Medical Assistance Teams (DMATs), twice the number currently planned, are dispatched from across Japan, untreated deaths fell 13 percent to a total of 5,431.

The most dramatic improvement was seen when fewer people were injured. If that number were 8,500, or 40 percent of the projected total of injuries, there would be almost no untreated deaths, the study said.


Fuse pointed out that when the number of patients requiring treatment exceeds a certain level, the medical system will collapse.

“The same phenomenon that many people saw firsthand during the novel coronavirus pandemic would also occur during a major natural disaster,” he said.

For this reason, Fuse urged people to take basic precautions against injury, such as wearing Reinforce houses to make them earthquake-proof and take action now to ensure furniture doesn’t fall over in a major earthquake.

Fuse also suggested setting up a system to ensure injured people get to hospitals quickly, depending on the nature of their injuries.

It would of course be ideal to move all patients to designated hub facilities, but this is unrealistic given the likely injuries from building collapses and fire outbreaks widespread areas, Fuse said.

“Response measures, including greater post-disaster support from DMATs and other parties, will be essential to smoothly transfer patients to appropriate hospitals based on the severity of their injuries,” Fuse said in his proposal to reduce the number of untreated deaths in the simulation reported to medium-sized hospitals.

He also called for a facility to better share information on which medical centers suffer damage in a major quake, as well as relief supplies needed, and said the move had been made essential to efforts to make full use of available medical staff.

“Strengthening a system to collect and use information in various ways is another point,” added Fuse.

The team’s forecasting method was published in a thesis in 2019 and has been updated several times since then.

The latest projection, which suggests that around 80 percent of untreated deaths will occur in mid-level medical centers, is expected to be published in a paper or otherwise at a later date.


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