Rescue teams from Asian cities were invited to Tokyo from November 20 to 23, 2013, to participate in a program associated with the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG) Comprehensive Disaster Management Drill. This program was conducted as part of the ANMC21 joint project, the Network for Crisis Management. Rather than simply enhancing the rescue skills of crisis management personnel via knowledge-sharing of rescue techniques, etc., the project aims to develop human networks among Asian cities that will become the basis of international cooperation during actual times of disaster. On this occasion, a total of 14 rescue team personnel from Seoul, Taipei and New Taipei (as observers) participated in the program.
On the program's first day, to deepen understanding of the Tokyo Fire Department (TFD), participants visited some facilities including the Yotsuya Fire Station and the Fire Museum, etc. They also received a lecture on TFD activities. At the Yotsuya Fire Station, in addition to seeing equipment and vehicles, participants had the opportunity to closely examine the environment, such as the training facility and the napping room, in which TFD personnel actually work. While comparing the number of fire stations in Tokyo and their size to those encountered in their home cities, participants sometimes expressed surprise when they were given explanations as to the facilities and equipment of the Yotsuya Fire Station.
On the program's second and third days, participants took part in a technical exchange, discussions and pre-training for the TMG Comprehensive Disaster Management Drill with members of the Fire Rescue Task Force of the 9th Fire District HQ, TFD (the 9HR). The 9HR was newly set up in March of 2013 to increase the capacity to response to major natural disasters as well as NBC incidents (NBC: Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical). After lectures and site visits that allowed them to gain an understanding of the 9HR, participants saw a practical demonstration of NBC incident response.
For the TMG Comprehensive Disaster Management Drill, the main task of the rescue team from ANMC21 member cities is to rescue survivors from collapsed houses built in the Drill's venue. When a big disaster occurs, international rescue squads gather together, and they cooperate to rescue people while confronting many differences in rescue methods, rescue techniques, and their languages. In such a situation, the fundamental points that might not be quite problematic between the same team member, such as how to convey a leader's instruction accurately and how to ensure greater safety of team members, will be serious challenges. Accordingly, on this occasion meticulous preparations were carried out with respect to each and every move; this being done via cooperation between the 9HR members and three overseas rescue teams.
On the day of the disaster drill, at Akirudai Park in Akiruno City which hosted the event; local residents, the local fire brigade and police made a start in rescuing people from a collapsed house. While this was happening, the rescue teams from ANMC21 member cities arrived at the venue by helicopter. Following the orders of the 9HR Leader, they carefully put the persons trapped in the house on a stretcher and removed them from the house by using a crane vehicle.
Although the program was short in lasting only four days, participants made favorable comments, such as being very much impressed by the fervor with which TFD personnel executed their duties, and the discussions among the different cities were very valuable. A sense of achievement was also noted in having personnel from the different cities gather together and cooperate in the execution of duties while appreciating each other's commonalities and differences. The human network developed among Seoul, Taipei, New Taipei and Tokyo will continue in the future, and it is hoped that it will represent the basis for strong ties that stretch beyond national borders when responding to future disasters.