At train stations, airports, theaters, shopping malls, and schools, you may have recognized a bright red or orange box that contains an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED.
The AED is a device that gives electrical shocks to a heart that has stopped beating to help start functioning again. When one has a heart attack and suffers cardiopulmonary arrest, someone nearby may use the AED to conduct an emergency treatment to save the life of the victim. Since July 2004, it does not require users of AED to be a licensed health professional. The equipment is designed so that anyone without medical knowledge can easily use by turning on its switch and following the audio instruction. The AED automatically monitors and analyzes the electrocardiogram and tells the operator when to press the designated switch to give electrical shocks.
Since heart failure victims require immediate attention, it is often too late for ambulance crews or hospital doctors to give appropriate medical treatment to them. Many victims have lost their lives because of this. In 3 minutes after one has an attack, his/her mortality rate rises up to 50%. In 5 minutes, the rate goes higher to a dangerous level. In other words, the few minutes it takes until the ambulance arrives are really critical. The AED makes it possible to give the victims a primary treatment immediately on site, increasing the possibility of saving their lives. Some of you may have heard of a recent case in which a celebrity who ran a marathon and had a heart attack was saved by the AED.
The location of AED boxes is marked with a symbol sign of a heart with a lightning bolt. Previous knowledge of how to use the equipment will definitely help you when time comes. The Tokyo Emergency First-Aid Association provides classes where participants can learn first-aid techniques including the use of AED (the classes require fees).
Tokyo Emergency First-Aid Association first-aid class information (in Japanese only)
http://www.teate.jp/k_kousyu/index.html
Every season, we hear of people becoming ill because of the summer heat. Children who were left inside a car became sick; someone who were watching outdoor sport games got dizzy and fainted. You may have heard the word heat stroke or heat disorders ("necchusho" in Japanese) but may not know exactly what you should do in case you or someone near you becomes sick from the heat.
One thing you need to know about heat disorders is that they can occur not only when you are active outside under the sun but also while you are doing something inside a house. Common symptoms include fatigue, muscle spasms, headaches, dizziness, and palpitations. If you find such symptoms and don't take them seriously, assuming that you are just a bit tired or that it's probably because of the lack of sleep, the symptoms could get worse, and you may end up becoming really sick. In some cases, people can die from the heat disorders. Therefore, it is always better to take actions as early as possible if you experience any of these symptoms. To prevent becoming sick from the heat, you should take lots of fluid, dress accordingly to keep the body cool, and avoid moving quickly to outside after being in an air-conditioned room for a long time. In addition to taking precautions for yourself, help each other with people around you and pay special attention to old people and children.
The Ministry of the Environment has launched a website that is dedicated to the information for the prevention of heat disorders. The site also provides information on the WBGT index, which is an indicator of the level of the heat. The WBGT information is available by regions, so you may want to check the heat level of your destination if you plan to go out. The site can be viewed via mobile phones, so make sure to bookmark its address before leaving the house.
Ministry of the Environment Heat Disorders Prevention Information Site (in Japanese only)
http://www.nies.go.jp/health/HeatStroke/index.html

(Mobile site)
http://www.nies.go.jp/health/HeatStroke/kt/prev_menu.html
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