JRC copter lifts off for blood airlift drill assuming large-scale disaster.

Blood for transfusion being carried in chartered helicopter

Blood for transfusion being carried in chartered helicopter

“Shizuoka’s traffic and communication networks have been disrupted by an earthquake and tsunami. Take this blood to Shizuoka!” On July 16th, the Japanese Red Cross Society (JRCS) participated in a medical aid drill held by Shizuoka Prefecture under the assumption that a large-scale disaster had struck the area. Initial blood supplies were airlifted by helicopter.

The helicopter had been chartered, which was the first time this had been done for a JRC activity. The operation, which was carried out by Aero Asahi, was for the purpose of ensuring blood product delivery to medical facilities during emergencies following disasters.

staff receiving airlifted blood products from helicopter

staff receiving airlifted blood products from helicopter

Airlift from Nagoya Airport to Shimoda, Shizuoka

The drill started at 8:00 a.m., the scenario being that a large-scale earthquake (6.3 or stronger on the Richter scale) had occurred along the Suruga and Nankai Troughs and, together with a tsunami, had struck multiple areas in Shizuoka Prefecture, causing severe and widespread damage.

The helicopter departed Tokyo Heliport at 10:30 following the receipt of requests from the Shizuoka JRC blood center for an airlift of blood as their supply was running out due to disaster response and from the city of Shimoda on the tip of the Izu Peninsula, to which road access had been severed. The helicopter picked up blood from Aichi JRC blood center staff at Nagoya Airport and delivered some of it to JRC staff at Shizuoka Airport at 14:00 and the rest of it to JRC staff at Shimoda Heliport at 14:30. It thereby safely completed its mission to supply blood promptly to medical institutions.

A staff member from the JRC blood service headquarters who participated in the drill said, “This was the first drill in which we used a helicopter, yet we were able to complete our mission smoothly and as planned due to the efforts of each of the participants. We’ll continue our training in different areas and under different scenarios to ensure smooth delivery of blood to where it is needed in a real emergency”.

This drill was aimed at establishing a medical aid system for use following a large-scale disaster. The JRC participants came from the JRC’s blood service headquarters, the blood centers in the Tokai/Hokuriku districts, and the Shizuoka and Aichi branches.