Hyogo Prefecture aims to increase support for the visually impaired during disasters

Written with extracts from the Kobe Shimbun

March 11th 2018

Akashi City is planning to open the National Kobe Sight Disorder Center in Nishi-ku Ueshuromachi, Kobe City, a “Welfare Evacuation Center” on the 11th, seven years after the Great East Japan Earthquake, in an effort to strengthen support for the visually impaired at the time of a disaster. It is the first facility of its kind in Akashi city and will be the 10th facility dedicated to visually impaired people in the area.

Information posted at evacuation centers is difficult to relay, and visually handicapped people who find it difficult to move in congested traffic may need use of professional help to act.

The city held the first evacuation drill for visually handicapped people who need assistants in unfamiliar places because it is difficult to grasp the situation when a disaster such as an earthquake occurred last March 11.

After an exchange of opinions after training, participants requested the establishment of welfare evacuation centers. The center is engaged in vocational training such as massage and toilet training, living training such as walking, braille and personal computers. It is close to Akashi and there are many citizens who pass through from Akashi station by bus. The center has agreements similar to those of Kobe City, and since Akasaka City has well-stocked and evacuation space systems, Akashi City has applied for an agreement. The center had a stockpile of small generators, a stove of propane gas, food, etc. In the case of the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, about 20 people were accepted. The person in charge of the center said that “evacuees can be relieved because it is a specialized facility, and in case of emergency, they want to be useful for acceptance.”

The welfare evacuation facility, direct train NG Akashi city’s welfare evacuation center is the tenth place at the National Kobe Sight Disorder Center. On the other hand, when you use it, you need to be judged by the city at “primary evacuation center” such as elementary and junior high school, so you need to be careful not to go directly to the welfare evacuation center. The city has signed an agreement with 7 municipalities, including social welfare corporations and medical corporations, in addition to 2 municipal facilities. According to specialized field, elderly people who need nursing care, people with intellectual disabilities, people with disabilities, people who need medical measures are divided by facility. 42 primary schools, including elementary and junior high schools, have set up “welfare evacuation rooms” that utilize empty classrooms and others.

First of all, those who need consideration, after having evacuated here, public health nurses and case workers interview and organize people with high necessity and urgency into welfare evacuation centers. In the Kumamoto earthquake, there were local governments who were flooded with general evacuees and were unable to establish welfare evacuation centers. The city plans to expand the designation of welfare evacuation shelters in order to deal with a wide range of important conscious people. “We will consult with each facility repeatedly to make it an effective evacuation center and I want to inform the procedure of evacuation so as not to cause confusion.” [Welfare evacuation shelter] In the general evacuation shelter, a secondary evacuation center that accepts “important people” such as elderly people, pregnant women, dementia patients, handicapped persons who have difficulties in life.

Municipalities designate welfare facilities and public facilities in advance, and place staff members responsible for nursing care and living support. Due to the prolonged evacuation life, the necessity was pointed out, for example, due to the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake that “earthquake related death” followed one another. Established for the first time in 2007 Noto Peninsula Earthquake. In the Kumamoto earthquake in April 2004, many of the designated facilities did not function due to the shortage of personnel and supplies at the facility, and the problem became highlighted.

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