During the deadly earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011 in northeast Japan, about 367 lives of first responders, district welfare workers and firefighters were lost in the three worst-affected prefectures of Iwate, Fukushima and Miyagi. Among the ones who were killed was a 35-year-old Takafumi Momma, who was a leader at his volunteer fire brigade.
Momma was at home when he heard the news of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake and he immediately headed off to assist the local residents in rescue operations, but never returned. Most of the first responders who were killed on that fateful afternoon were engulfed by tsunami while they were providing guidance and help to the residents and shutting the floodgates, among other tasks.
Momma’s widow Maya said, “I hope (society) will make good use of the lessons this time to minimize the death toll as much as possible in the future”. With this incident, it has become important to save lives of the rescuers. Maya went on to say that the fire engines must be dispatched in teams of two or more so that the crew can handle the mechanical failures and flat tires.
However, there were some measures already applied before March 11, 2011 disaster.