The U.S. Training for the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program
From August 5th to 18th, 2023, ten nursing students visited New York City, New Jersey, and Washington, D.C. for the first time in four years since 2019 during the TOMODACHI J&J Disaster Nursing Training Program 2023.
In the first half of the training, they visited the 911 Memorial Museum in NY, located on the site of the terrorist attacks in 2001. There they learned the horror and the magnitude of the damage of man-made disasters by actually seeing with their own eyes the images that tell the story of what happened at that time. At New York University Medical Center, lecturers from various departments in the hospital covered the kinds of Covid-19 responses taken and the lessons learned from that experience.
After moving to New Jersey, the participants visited the areas affected by 2012’s Hurricane Sandy and heard valuable stories from Dr. Margaret Quinn, who was personally affected by the disaster. Dr. Quinn is a qualified nurse, and currently teaching at a nursing school. In response to a question from participating student, Haruka Nawano, about the support that saved Dr. Quinn the most when she became a disaster victim, Dr. Quinn replied, “The biggest relief was that the school, where the children belonged, had close communication with the families. While I was struggling to recover, I may not have noticed any changes in my child, but thanks to the school noticing even small changes and communicating with the family every time, I was able to give the attention that my child needed.” The participants visited the headquarters of Johnson & Johnson, the sponsor of the program, and watched a documentary film called “5B” about the nurses who stood up and worked to take care of AIDS patients at the time when AIDS began to spread. The participants exchanged opinions, including talking about points that also applied to the spread of Covid-19.
In the second half of the study tour, the participants were able to receive some practical training, such as evacuation drills using medical sleds (Med Sled), decontamination workshop, essentials to pack in Go Bags and how to use tourniquets. They also had a lecture called Murage in which students actually made artificial injuries and bruises with special makeup that are used for mannequins and training participants during the simulation training. At the Uniformed Service University, they went through simulations to instantly determine priorities in triaging in the event of a disaster.
On the last day of the U.S. study tour, they attended a reception held at Children’s National Health System. The reception was joined by Kathleen Chavanu Gorman, Vice President and COO of Children’s National Health System, Susan Morita, Co-Chair of USJC, and Koichi Ai, Minister and Head of Chancery along with few other staff members of Children’s National Heal System and USJC members in D.C. area.
Susan Morita said in her congratulatory remark, “I give admiration and respect for what you have chosen to do with your lives. All of us owe deep gratitude to health workers up and down the line, and most definitely to nurses, who are often the frontline of healthcare, spending the most time with patients and their loved ones.”
Mai Kumagai reflected the U.S. study tour in her speech by saying, “I learned that in times of disaster, focusing on a “support to recover their daily life” can lead to increasing resilience of disaster victims. I used to think that only the minimum needs should be met when thinking about a disaster relief, but in disaster nursing, the goal for the relief worker is to help the person return to his or her normal life, and that is what disaster nursing is.”
The 10 students will attend the post-trip seminar in September in Hyogo, Japan to reflect upon their learning from their U.S. study tour, and be ready to give back to the community during their project presentation.