Japanese students study Bellevue's EMS system

Professor Hideharu Tanaka, right, brought eight of his students from Kukushikan University to study the Bellevue Fire Department’s emergency medical services system. - Brandon Macz
Professor Hideharu Tanaka, right, brought eight of his students from Kukushikan University to study the Bellevue Fire Department’s emergency medical services system.
— image credit: Brandon Macz

Hideharu Tanaka believes the Bellevue Fire Department's emergency medical services system to be one of the best in the world, and didn't hesitate to travel more than nine hours by plane from Tokyo with eight of his Kokushikan University students to prove it.

"The reason we're here is because Seattle/Bellevue is one of the best places for learning about the EMS system," said Tanaka, who first visited the city last year. He came back to learn more about the best practices he wants to apply at his university, where he is a professor of the department of emergency medical system trauma, burn and prehospital care medicine disaster and EMS Rescue Institute. "Still, we have a lot of things we should learn from the U.S., especially the educational process."

Tanaka arrived in Bellevue over the weekend with eight master students who are studying to also one day become EMS educators in Japan. They spent Saturday touring the Bellevue Police Department and Fire Station 2 in Eastgate, learning about various medical and fire suppression apparatuses used by the department. Students paired off Sunday to do ride-alongs with four medic units.

"To see is best to know about the differences," said Tanaka about the ride-alongs, where students were able to observe and learn from medical responses in real time.

Tanaka and students were also given a tour of the Northwest AED factory in Medina, where Philips HeartStart defibrillators are produced. Northwest AED owner Suzi Crickmore also organized the trip to Bellevue for Tanaka and his students.

"It was such a big hit," she said of last year's visit, "that Dr. Tanaka asked if we could do it this year."

Students found themselves in Seattle Tuesday for grand rounds at Harborview Medical Center to learn about best practices in pediatric medicine, followed by a visit with the Medic 2 Program director for the Seattle Fire Department and then the Seattle Fire Alarm Center. The tour concluded with a tour of Harborview's emergency department.

"Seattle is really a different program," said Crickmore, "even though they're all trained the same and trained at Harborview."

Tanaka will host a Pan-Asian conference in April where he will share the best practices for EMS systems he's learned here in Bellevue and Seattle. He said he was very impressed by the level of cooperation between the city of Bellevue's police and fire departments, including its dispatch center.

"It is one of the best systems in the world, because sometimes the police and fire department are separated, but they work very closely together."


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