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March 14, 2011

Responding to crisis

JIBC staff members participate in Japan aid effort

Update: March 16, 2011

As a result of the nuclear threat at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power plant, the decision was made to evacuate from Japan the Canadian Medical Assistance Team (CMAT), which was not sufficiently equipped to assist in the event of a nuclear emergency. CMAT will continue staging in Vancouver for re-deployment as quickly as possible and is also placing medical and rescue personnel with CBRNE (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) training on standby.

Kevin Sanford, paramedic and Program Director, Contract Programs with the JIBC School of Health Sciences, was deployed to Japan on Sunday as a member of the Canadian Medical Assistance Team

The ten-person team is travelling to earthquake and tsunami ravaged Sendai in the Miyagi prefecture, taking with them medical supplies, water purification systems and trauma gear. The advance team, comprised of five Canadians and two Americans, arrived safely in Tokyo and will be joined later by the remaining team members flying out of Portland, Oregon.

The CMAT rapid deployment assessment team – working with the International Medical Assistance Team (IMAT) – is part of the first wave of humanitarian aid workers heading to Northern Japan from North America. Now that they have arrived in Tokyo, their first challenge will be to get ground transportation, or an air lift, up to the devastated areas in the northeast. Preliminary estimates are that as many as 10,000 persons may have died and thousands more are in need of assistance - food, water, shelter and medical support.

Once there, the team will conduct a needs assessment, in cooperation with local authorities and other international aid agencies, and plan for the subsequent arrival of equipment, medical supplies and volunteer personnel.

Back on the ground in BC, JIBC Primary Care Paramedic Program Coordinator Kathy Harms is arranging transportation in Japan for the team. Once she has secured transportation for the assessment team, she will coordinate air transport for subsequent volunteers.

This isn’t the first time that JIBC staff has volunteered time and resources to international humanitarian relief efforts.  Most recently, both Sanford and Harms were deployed to Haiti to provide medical assistance to victims of the 2010 earthquake.

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Tags: earthquake, Japan, paramedics, School of Health Sciences

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Last updated November 12, 2013