Apr 2013


Report from the ‘Disaster Prevention Training Camp’

PBV held an overnight Disaster Prevention Training Camp on March 23rd and 24th near the scenic town of Nagataro, Saitama prefecture.

The training program was presented as a joint effort by multiple groups, each with their own expertise and knowledge, which helped to create a truly in-depth and comprehensive course. The Chichibu Fire Station Kitabun precinct, WMA (Wilderness Medical Associates) Japan, Montbell and speakers from Ishinomaki city were amongst the many parties involved.

There were 28 participants, most of whom were based in the Kanto area. The group included not only past PBV volunteers, but students, office workers, and even some eager individuals from as far afield as Osaka.

The main purposes of the Disaster Prevention Training Camp are as follows:

  • To have the participants gain a comprehensive understanding of disaster situations.
  • To have the participants acquire the knowledge and mentality needed to protect one’s self and others in the case of a disaster.
  • To have the participants make relationships and to create a network of disaster responders.

The course started with a simulation exercise, in which participants are given a scenario where there has just been a major earthquake. In this case there were fires and many casualties. Participants were trained to conduct preliminary assessments, provide CPR, use an AED, and also practiced extinguishing fires.

After having learned the basics, advanced classes were held in the field. It is presumed that at the time of a disaster, those in need of medical support may be outside wearing winter clothes. Two representatives of WMA Japan, Ohta and Yokohiro, conducted workshops in giving medical treatment in the wilderness with only basic equipment.

After lunch, participants learned about evacuation centers. Using a map (in a simulated situation), the participants thought about what would be necessary for each shelter to function. They were presented with different situations and had to think about how they could assess the problem as effectively as possible, exercising their decision-making skills.

This also served as an opportunity to learn about the Sphere Standards on humanitarian aid, making it possible to compare the differences between Japan and other countries from a humanitarian standpoint.

At night, the participants made a special dinner. To simulate a disaster situation, water could not be used to cook. So that day’s meal was prepared using the ‘plastic bag’ technique. This method is gaining popularity as a healthy way to cook, not needing any oil, but it is also very useful in an emergency for it does not need a bowl and only a minimal amount of water.

At night Yoshinobu Bandai from Ishinomaki city came to give a talk. Mr. Bandai’s life changed dramatically after 3.11 as he had lived in the area most of his life and was directly affected by the disaster. He spoke about his experiences in Northern Kyushu as a volunteer after the region was hit by heavy rainfall. He also spoke of his time in New York, where he took part in relief activities post-Hurricane Sandy in late 2012.

At the end of the day, they slept in a large room, using sleeping bags. This was also a part of the shelter experience. Men were separated from the women, which would be a luxury in a real situation, but snoring continued throughout the night.


Day Two

The second day started off with an optional activity.

Those who decided to join in were taken to the portable toilet and washing areas. They were taught crucial skills such as pulling water to the portable toilets, setting up lights and handling equipment. It’s easy to miss, but these seemingly simple tasks are indispensable in an emergency situation.

Next, the focus was on how to light kerosene burners and use generators. After breakfast, Handa from Montbell came and held a practical outdoor class. Since the Niigata Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake, Montbell has been present at many disaster-affected areas to provide support, applying their knowledge of the outdoors and survival techniques to the disaster relief scene.

The final lesson centered around cooking. The trainer for this lesson was PBV staff member Kazumi Kitamura, who was one of the main coordinators in providing food for those affected by 3.11.

Even for a person who cooks at home on a regular basis, cooking for people during a disaster is a totally different experience and requires a different skill set. The group was split up into teams in order to take on the tasks of managing the cooking utensils, preparing food and condiments, the cooking itself, distributing food and cleaning up afterwards.

*A portion of the ingredients used to make this meal was provided by Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc.

After the program had concluded we gathered feedback during the debriefing. One of the participants remarked that they would like to do something in their local area to protect their family and friends. Another expressed his wish to have an overnight training program in more inconvenient and severe circumstances.

This being the first ‘Disaster Prevention Training Camp’, the staff that took part in preparing and conducting the program were also able to learn. As we are constantly looking to improve our trainings, we will be using the feedback we received to create an even better experience for future participants.

If you were not able to join us this time, we look forward to hosting you in the future!

To conclude, here are some words from Mr. Bandai.

‘You have to live first. To make sure you do not burden others, make sure you live.’

The following is an excerpt from Mr. Bandai’s letter of thanks:

An unbelievable tremor and tsunami! At nature’s will, there was nothing we could do but just stand there feeling hopeless.

When we had lost our path and felt only worries, there were those that came to us stretching out a hand of hope and joy asking if we were alright.

Those were the ones who saw what had happened on TV and felt the need to do something and decided to volunteer their time and energy to help out.

The volunteers came to an unknown place to help people they had never met.

They brought their own water, food and tents when coming, without being able to use a bath, drink alcohol or enjoy entertainment, they kept on working so hard to make the city clean, battling the piles of rubble and muck day after day.

Seeing these volunteers strive day in and day out, I and the people around me were able to truly live.

If you do not call what the volunteers showed towards us the ‘kindness of man’, then what would you call it? If not the ‘warmth of man’ then what else could it be?

I would like to show again my gratitude to all the volunteers that gave love, courage, and spirit towards the restoration of our home, to us that had lost everything.

Thank you,

Yoshinobu Bandai



Finally we would like to thank everyone that worked with us to conduct the ‘Disaster Prevention Training Camp’.

[Host] PBV Center

[Organizations involved] Chichibu Fire Station Kitabun precinct, Montbell Ltd., WMA Japan, Marubeni-Itochu Steel Inc.

[Support] Church World Service-Asia/Pacific