Comox Valley paramedic helping Japanese earthquake survivors

A Comox Valley paramedic is helping deliver clean water to earthquake survivors in coastal Japan.
Martin Metz is part of the Canadian Medical Assistance Teams (CMAT) medical team that has been volunteering in Ishinomaki, in the Miyagi Prefecture in Japan.


A Comox Valley paramedic is helping deliver clean water to earthquake survivors in coastal Japan.Martin Metz is part of the Canadian Medical Assistance Teams (CMAT) medical team that has been volunteering in Ishinomaki, in the Miyagi Prefecture in Japan.While visiting evacuation centres in several small villages along the coast, team members provided first aid and some primary medical care to the evacuees, according to CMAT.Many of the patients that the team saw were elderly and had chronic illnesses like diabetes and high blood pressure, it noted.Meanwhile, other members of the team were awaiting delivery of the Nomad water purification unit.CMAT was able to buy this portable water purification system through the generous support of donors, especially the Lotus Light Charity Society from Vancouver, according to CMAT.The unit is capable of producing 95 litres of water per minute or 136,800 liters per day.”The Nomad will satisfy the need for large volumes of safe drinking water using any fresh water source: well, lake, river, stream, and pond and even polluted floodwaters,” according to CMAT.In collaboration with the Japanese military, CMAT decided to place the Nomad in the community of Kitakamicho Aikawa, a small fishing village of about 1,000 people, which was completely destroyed by the tsunami.”It is located high enough up that it will soon supply the whole community with safe drinking water,” according to CMAT. “The water reservoir and most of the water supply infrastructure was washed away in the tsunami, and the local authorities and military estimate that it will take at least six months before the system is back up and running again. The Nomad will supply water for the community during the reconstruction.”CMAT and International Medical Assistance Team members have been working in the region, providing medical aid and assistance to the Japanese military with search and recovery efforts after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami ravaged the area on March 11.Paramedic Ryan Thorburn of Comox, who was a member of CMAT’s rapid assessment team that flew to Japan right after the March 11 earthquake but had to return after only a couple of days following an explosion at a nuclear reactor plant, has been receiving information from the team in Japan.There was a 6.1-magnitude earthquake close to the team members and a number of smaller quakes, explained Thorburn.”So, they’re working in these conditions, so when they’re helping patients, they’re working with the aftershocks and working on patients at the same time,” he said.Thorburn received a text message from Metz last week.”He’s still standing there trying to wrap his head around this,” he said.All CMAT members are together in Ishinomaki, and their return date is planned for April 5, according to Thorburn.”Their minds are on the people and helping try to produce water,” he said. “They also said there’s an amazing cleanup effort. The Japanese people are amazing.”CMAT has received a lot of support, including deals on flights to Japan and radiation dosimeters donated by BCIT and the Vancouver Fire Department, noted Thorburn, who particularly wanted to thank Rob at Pacific Coastal, which sent over a huge load of supplies.”Everybody kicks in,” he said. “It’s amazing.”CMAT continues to appeal for donations to help offset the ongoing costs of deployment of the field hospital and medical team. Visit to

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