Artificial Respirators – Lifeline during Power Outages
In the aftermath of this year’s earthquake, persons with disabilities (PWDs) requiring the use of artificial respirators are facing dire circumstances, especially while power outages are long or frequent. In other words, their lives are immediately placed in danger without a power source to keep their artificial respirators operating.
Fumiya SEKI is a 9-year old PWD living in Kami Town in Miyagi Prefecture. His mother replayed for us in detail what happened on the day of the earthquake. “The shaking from the earthquake separated Fumiya’s bed and his artificial respirator, and the tube connecting the two almost came off. We were very lucky that there was a couple of staff members present at that particular moment to keep the tube connected. My son would have been in danger if the earthquake had come a little later, as the staff members would have gone home by then. When a big aftershock hit on April 7th, causing a power outage that lasted for 3 days, we were scrambling to find alternate power sources like car batteries and our neighbor’s generator to keep the respirator going.”
It is still possible that a big enough aftershock will come and cause another prolonged power outage in the affected areas. For that reason, many families with PWDs like Fumiya’s are still living with the same fear of how they would cope in similar situations. They could have gone to buy a portable power generator for household use, but generators are very expensive, and the government did not promise any subsidies to cover for this cost. Given these circumstances, AAR JAPAN decided to step in, and in October 2011, started providing a total of 113 portable household generators to families with children with disabilities (CWDs) needing artificial respirators. We also provided gasoline tanks and compressed gas cylinders, as these generators can either run on gasoline or natural gas. In addition, we take care to explain how to use these generators when we make the donation.
With these generators, devices such as artificial respirators, phlegm removers, and blenders for processing food for the elderly can be run, even during times of long power outages. From those receiving the generators, we have heard expressions of relief and appreciation, such as, “This is easy enough to use, even for me,” and, “Even if another power outage comes, we will not have to panic.” Furthermore, as a secondary effect of our current efforts to reach all families with this particular need, we have seen hints of a sense of community building between the families bearing children with severe physical and intellectual disabilities. Although we hope that these families will not have to find themselves and their children in such dangerous situations again, we are glad that we have been able to deliver a sense of security.
This particular project was supported by the individual donors in Japan, as well as with extremely generous support from action medeor, Islamic Relief Deutschland, Aktion Deutschland Hilft. AAR JAPAN will continue to work in the affected areas to see that no PWD or CWD is left wanting of basic needs.