You’ve heard the saying “preparedness starts at home.” Well for military families, home may be somewhere far away from the United States – like Japan.
At the U.S. Navy Airfield at Atsugi, Japan, the American Red Cross team is helping thousands of military families to be aware of possible threats from disasters and preparing them to respond.
“Our Red Cross team at the U.S. Navy Airfield at Atsugi, Japan, is working with the Japanese Red Cross (JRC) on several events to promote preparedness for the military and civilian communities in the area,” said J. Paul Butler, Service to the Armed Forces station manager. “While you should be prepared anywhere you live, in Japan preparedness is taken very seriously. Here, typhoons (in Japanese, taifu) are a threat from May to November, and earthquakes are a year-round threat.”
The Japanese Red Cross invited their American counterparts to a disaster response training at a park in Shiroyama city. There they instructed their guests in knot tying and rope work as part of learning how to assemble emergency shelters. At lunchtime, the Americans learned how the local Red Cross cooks large meals, with everyone pitching in to slice up vegetables, bamboo shoots and individual bags of rice cooked in a variety of flavors. Following lunch, it was back to work on the shelters.
Both Red Cross societies stress the importance of preparedness, especially for typhoons. “The military closely tracks these storms and can give several days’ notice of the arrival of any major storm,” said Butler. “What’s interesting is that the preparedness message is universal and the tips sound much the same as prepping for a hurricane along the U.S. Gulf Coast.”
Some of the typhoon safety tips include the following:
“To thank the JRC team,” said Butler, “we invited them to a huge celebration and to march with our teen club in a parade, as well as work with us at our information booth on the installation parade field.”
In addition to the thousands of US sailors and their families, NAF Atsugi is also home to several thousand Japanese sailors and airmen of the country’s Maritime Self Defense Force. The Japanese military personnel were delighted to see their own Red Cross present on the base. The Red Cross booth became a multinational and multilingual operation, with the American Red Cross talking to the U.S. sailors and their families, while the Japanese Red Cross talked to the Japanese sailors and their families.
“Keeping families safe in times of emergency is truly an international effort,” said Butler.