In an effort to be more cosmopolitan and efficient in emergency medical services, the Tokyo Fire Department has recently deployed more ambulance teams with emergency personnel that are conversant in the English language – this ahead of the Japanese capital hosting the 2020 Summer Olympics.
According to data from the department, the number of foreigners that have been taken to hospital by emergency ambulance in Tokyo is steadily increasing, given the increasing number of foreigners who visit the city in the short-term and the ones who actually live in the city. The totals are this, 6,174 foreigners brought by ambulance in 2011, 6,737 in 2012, and 7,586 in 2013. Currently, there are a total of 13 ambulance teams in Tokyo with members who are able to converse in English. To that point, the Tokyo Fire Department employs around 40 English-speaking crew members who are deployed across eight fire stations in Marunouchi, Shibuya, Shinjuku and other districts with larger populations of foreigners. It is the department’s plan to increase the number of these English-speaking teams to 40 in the next three years – during the buildup to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “We aim to create an environment where foreign residents and tourists feel easy to use ambulance services in Tokyo,” an official of the department said.
In support of this, the Japanese Health Ministry has already revealed its plans to set up “foreigner-friendly” healthcare stations all across the country. These facilities are aimed at foreigners residing and visiting the country, who would need medical attention, but could not speak the Japanese language. A budget of 146 million yen (approx. US$1.43 million) has been allotted for this effort this year. The Health Ministry has identified 30 locations across the country where a large population of foreigners reside or visit. These new facilities will have trained staff who are conversant in foreign languages, including English, Chinese, and Portuguese among others. Of course, these stations will not be limited to treating foreigners, they will stand in support for the health services in their respective local vicinities.
[via Jiji Press]