Factory Study Tour to Honjo Bosai-kan, Learning to Live with Disasters

(written by: Willy Yanto Wijaya)

(This article was written 5 years ago (2006), re-published in this blog on 20-11-2011)

Hearing the word “disaster” always reminds me of my country, Indonesia. It is still clear in my memory how terrible the tsunami in Aceh was (more than 200,000 people died); how frequently natural disasters happen such as earthquakes, volcano eruptions, land slides, and many others. Quite similarly, Japan also experiences many disasters. For instance, the most significant one in these decades is the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. It hits Kobe City as well as the Hanshin and Awaji regions directly, causing the loss of about 6394 lives and the damage of 240,000 buildings. (More recently, the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku region claims more than 20,000 lives and immeasurable damages on March 11, 2011)

Reflecting upon those facts, it is realized that the life safety learning for people is very important. Probably, this is also the reason why we had our first FST to a Bosai-kan (Life Safety Learning Centre).

Our destination was Honjo Bosai-kan, located at Yokokawa, Sumida-ku in Tokyo. First, we got explanations from the officer about features of the Bosai-kan. Then, we started our exciting experiences.

First was the 3-D Theater. In this theater, we could watch and feel as if we were involved in a disaster. The movie showed us how the condition of life changed after the disaster; how the panic escapes were conducted randomly.

After that, we continued to the Fire Fighting Training Section. We were told how to extinguish fire properly. It seemed trivial; but apparently we could fail if we used inappropriate techniques.

We also experienced the Rainstorm Simulation Section which gave us sense how to face the hard rain and wind. Surely, we got wet but that was very exciting.

The other section was Smoke Maze Section which challenged us to escape from a maze filled with smoke. Certainly, in real cases, some kinds of smoke might be so poisonous that we should be careful while conducting evacuation. Some of us tried this simulation twice and in those two simulations; it happened that some were killed in the maze unless it was merely a simulation.

The last section was Earthquake Simulation Section. We got a “stage” that was specially designed like a room in a house. The officer told us that there were several magnitudes of earthquakes that we could experience. So, we just chose which magnitude we’d like to try. It was incredibly shaking hard!

After all, we gathered back to Oookayama Campus. As a matter of fact, I just wondered why we didn’t get other sections like especially the First Aid Training Section. Perhaps, it’s because of the limitation of time we had. Anyway, I learned so many things through this study tour and experienced exciting experiences that may be useful one day.

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