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Lessons learned from the total evacuation of a hospital after the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake

Youichi Yanagawa, MD, PhD, Hisayoshi Kondo, MD, PhD, Takashi Okawa, MD, PhD, Fumio Ochi, MD, PhD


Background: The 2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes were a series of earthquakes that included a foreshock earthquake (magnitude 6.2) on April 14 and a main shock (magnitude 7.0) on April 16, 2016. A number of hospitals in Kumamoto were severely damaged by the two major earthquakes and required total evacuation.

Methods: The authors retrospectively analyzed the activity data of the Disaster Medical Assistance Teams using the Emergency Medical Information System records to investigate the cases in which the total evacuation of a hospital was attempted following the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake.

Results: Total evacuation was attempted at 17 hospitals. The evacuation of one of these hospitals was canceled. Most of the hospital buildings were more than 20 years old. The danger of collapse was the most frequent reason for evacuation. Various transportation methods were employed, some of which involved the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force; no preventable deaths occurred during transportation.

Conclusions: The hospitals must now be renovated to improve their earthquake resistance. The coordinated and combined use of military and civilian resources is beneficial and can significantly reduce human suffering in large-scale disasters.


civilian-military cooperation, Kumamoto, earthquake

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