Report from the front lines: TMAT Kesennuma Response

Here are some photos from Ms. Jeri Sumitani, a PA who was in Kesennuma City with the Tokushukai Disaster Medical Assistance Team (TMAT). Her explanations accompany the photos. These images reveal the destruction from the earthquake and tsunami, the medical relief efforts, and the resilience of the people there. In the album, you will also see Ms. Kaoru Yamanouchi, an NP from Alabama, and Ms. Nahoko Harada, the NP (and PhD student) from Boston.

Left: TMAT day 1

Please click "Read more" for more pictures from Kesennuma.

Houses, boats, everything was swept away by the tsunami.

"Our ride to Sendai."


Only approved vehicles carrying emergency supplies were allowed on the Touhoku Highway
"Only approved vehicles carrying emergency supplies were allowed on the Touhoku Highway."




Left: Sendai Tokushukai Hospital

Right: "Several team members in front of Hashikami Middle School where over 1000 people were seeking refuge."

The banner in the back says: "Rise high from here."


Left and Middle: TMAT Clinic, Right: The pharmacy

"We had staff pharmacists as part of our team – very helpful to those of us from the US!".

"We were fed twice a day by the wonderful "chefs" of our evac shelter"


"TMAT evening meeting – we had meetings twice daily to discuss plans for the day, issues, etc.  Communication is key in disaster management."
"We headed to Iwaisaki township, where approx 60 ppl were stranded due to a collapsed bridge that connected the peninsula and mainland"
"…and you cross over the water via this rickety, makeshift bridge.  This is the only access point between Iwaisaki and the mainland"
"You'd think they'd be starving...but they greeted us with a feast with whatever they had.  This is Japanese hospitality!"
"This bldg on the right is the evacuation site for Iwaisaki township.  As you can see, the tsunami came literally right up to the bldg and they got lucky.  The evac site for the next township over was destroyed by the tsunami…along with 95 who were in it."
"No power, no water.  We had a gas stove and probably got carbon monoxide poisoning every day.  This is where we slept."

Left: Ms. Harada counsels a patient. "First time ever for us PAs and NPs to practice medicine in Japan.  Our Japanese counterparts were wonderfully receptive and welcoming.  We hope this is the beginning of a new era for midlevels in Japan…"
Right: (from lef t) Ms. Yamanouchi, Ms. Harada, and Ms. Sumitani

"Last day at the Hashikami TMAT clinic"
"Sad to leave our friends…"


"The gymnasium where people slept – they also used the classrooms on the 2nd and 3rd floors. Even over the week that they were there, the total number of evacuees decreased slowly but steadily.  On the last day, there was talk of power coming back in this area which encouraged ppl to go home if their homes were structurally sound."
"Just a few steps up hill, this house is in perfect shape.  Such a bizarrer juxtaposition of life and utter devastation."
"Life as usual up on the hill.  Disaster down hill."


"Minami sanriku – another area south of Kesennuma where damage was extensive.  We stopped by on our way back to Sendai to deliver goods."