Hypo DMAT Team / Takarazuka City Hospital photo

Development of disaster medical service system

In August 2003, the Hyogo Emergency Medical Center was established to strengthen the capacity of the emergency and disaster medical services. The Hyogo Prefectural Government (Hyogo) streamlined its regional disaster and emergency medical information systems in order to promote the sharing of disaster medical information, including the status of medical facilities. Another purpose was to integrate and deliver the information on how to provide medical and relief services swiftly and properly in disaster-affected areas. At the same time, Hyogo has been installing disaster medical coordinators as experts to serve as key personnel in times of disaster. (HFA Priority 5)

Case Study

Development of disaster medical service system


Immediately after the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake (GHAE), it was reported that there were approximately 500 preventable disaster deaths that could have been avoided by a provision of emergency medical treatment.

By drawing on this lesson, experts realized the need for the establishment of a deployable rapid response medical team – Disaster Medical Assistance Team (DMAT) – and wide area transportation system of patients in a serious situation.

Coping Strategy

After the Earthquake, Hyogo established the “Hyogo Disaster Medical System Committee” which was comprised of experts and government officials. This committee issued a recommendation titled the “Mission of the Hyogo Disaster Medical System.” It outlined the need to establish a comprehensive system in which disaster medical information is gathered and provided at different secondary medical service areas. Commands are issued to medical institutions and transportation services to give emergency medical services, patient transportation and to stockpile of medicines. In addition, the committee recommended the establishment of a prefectural emergency medical center as a core facility. In response to this recommendation, the Hyogo Emergency Medical Center was established in 2003 with the Japanese Red Cross Society serving as its operator under a designated management mandate.

The Hyogo Disaster Emergency Medical System Operation Council which has been engaging in further deliberations on disaster medical systems based on Great East Japan Earthquake (2011).


In 1996, Hyogo became the first Japanese regional government to introduce a disaster emergency medical information system. Moreover, within the Hyogo Emergency Medical Center, it set up Hyogo Disaster and Emergency Medical Information Command Center – a communication network charged with gathering and providing medical information, dispatching medical teams, and coordinating the transportation of patients in times of disaster. This medical center has also been functioning as a training center for Japan DMAT. There are over 1000 DMAT teams in Japan, including the 18 that belong to Hyogo.

Recently, Hyogo has been considering health assistance programmes not only for emergency cases in the acute phase, but also for health maintenance of victims in post disaster phases.

Measuring Success

Hyogo subsequently conducted an overhaul of its disaster emergency medical information system that allowed it to deal with not only with large-scale disasters, but also local disasters. Specifically, this system was redeveloped to handle small-to-medium-sized disasters (addition of web function and emergency transportation request mode) in 2003.

Potential for replication

It is difficult to draw any immediate conclusion since we have yet to fully grasp the circumstances in other countries and territories.

Information of Contact Person

Mr. Masahiko Murata, Director, Research Department, Disaster Reduction and Human Renovation Institution (DRI), 1-5-2 Wakinohama-kaigandori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, 651-0073, Japan, Tel: +81-78-262-5065 / Fax: +81-78-262-5082, Mail: murata1@dri.ne.jp

Mr. Naoki Nakatsu, Chief, Disaster Management Project Planning Division, Disaster Management & Planning Bureau, Civil Policy Planning & Administration Department, 5-10-1 Shimoyamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo, 650-8567, Japan, Tel: +81-78-362-9870 / Fax: +81-78-362-9914, Mail: naoki_nakatsu@pref.hyogo.lg.jp