6 emergency responders in Abe killing showing signs of PTSD

This partially edited photo taken on July 28, 2022 shows part of a file of first aid activities following the shooting of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe released by the Nara City Fire Department. (Mainichi/Kohei Shimizu)

NARA — Six of the 24 emergency responders at the scene where former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed in Nara on July 8 are showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the city told the Mainichi Shimbun.

On July 28, the Nara City Fire Department released records of paramedics’ rescue efforts after the shooting, from the first emergency call to the arrival of an ambulance 10 minutes later, and the treatment of the former prime minister.

The shooting occurred around 11:30 a.m. near the north exit of Yamato-Saidaiji Station of the Kintetsu Railway. Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, allegedly approached Abe from behind and shot him with a homemade weapon. The Mainichi Shimbun requested disclosure of records of the paramedics’ activities at the time and obtained a report of their rescue attempts at the scene and Abe’s condition, among other documents.

The first emergency call to 119 was made at 11:31 a.m. At 11:32 and nine seconds an emergency dispatch was ordered for an “incident of assault”. Amid reports that Abe had been shot and was in cardiorespiratory arrest, paramedics arrived at the scene at 11.37am and an ambulance at 11.41am.

The report and other sources said that when paramedics arrived they found Abe lying on his back on the asphalt, being supported by security personnel and staff. A bullet wound was found near the base of his neck. Rescuers responded with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, tracheal intubation, oxygen administration and an electrocardiogram. However, the initial waveform indicated cardiac arrest and it was reported that his condition was not improving.

The former Prime Minister was shot dead in front of a crowd, creating unrest. The report said: “Priority was given to his accommodation as the crowds were large and there was commotion at the venue, with events taking place in public view.” Fearing the worst, firefighters decided Abe needed to be removed from the public eye quickly to protect his privacy. At 11:43 a.m., two minutes after an ambulance arrived, Abe was moved into the vehicle. At 11:45 a.m. the ambulance left for the rendezvous with an air ambulance.

The Nara municipal government said of the 24 emergency responders at the scene, six complained of insomnia and other symptoms indicative of PTSD, and were examined by occupational physicians. With PTSD, after a person encounters a life or death situation, they may experience anxiety, heart palpitations, and flashbacks.

Emergency work at the scene includes issuing instructions, providing support and controlling crowds to eliminate danger. The city did not disclose which departments the six belonged to or what they were responsible for on the day, in the name of protecting personal information.

A representative from the city’s fire department’s general affairs division commented, “Paramedics and others practice mental training when working at accident and fire scenes, but shootings are unique and (in Japan ) they usually don’t see gunshot wounds. were shocked by this horrific incident, and so we want to work to provide psychological care.”

(Japanese original by Mizuki Hayashi and Tatsuo Murase, Nara Bureau)

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