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6 emergency responders in Abe assassination showing signs of PTSD

This partially modified photo taken on July 28, 2022, shows a portion of a record 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 fatally shot in Nara on July 8 are showing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, the city has told the Mainichi Shimbun.

    The Nara City Fire Department on July 28 released records on paramedics' lifesaving efforts following 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 at around 11:30 a.m., near the north exit of the Kintetsu Railway's Yamato-Saidaiji Station. Tetsuya Yamagami, 41, allegedly approached Abe from behind and shot him with a handmade gun. The Mainichi Shimbun requested the disclosure of records of the paramedics' activities at the time, and obtained a report on their life-saving attempts at the scene and on Abe's condition, among other material.

    The first 119 emergency call was made at 11:31 a.m. At 11:32 and nine seconds, an emergency dispatch was ordered for an "assault incident." Amid reports that Abe had been shot and was in a state of cardiopulmonary arrest, paramedics arrived on the scene at 11:37 a.m. and an ambulance at 11:41 a.m.

    The report and other sources said that when paramedics arrived, they found Abe lying on his back on the asphalt, attended to by security personnel and staff. A gunshot wound was found near the base of his neck. Emergency workers responded with cardiopulmonary resuscitation, tracheal intubation, administration of oxygen and an electrocardiogram. However, the initial wave shape indicated cardiac arrest, and it was reported that his condition wasn't improving.

    The former prime minister was shot in front of a crowd, creating turmoil. The report stated, "Priority was placed on accommodating him as the crowd was large and there was commotion at the scene, with events happening in public view." Fearing the worst, the fire department decided Abe had to be moved out of 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 departed to rendezvous with an air ambulance.

    The Nara Municipal Government said that of the 24 emergency responders at the scene, six complained of insomnia and other symptoms indicative of PTSD, and were examined by industrial physicians. With PTSD, after a person encounters a life-and-death situation, they can experience anxiety, heart palpitations, and flashbacks.

    Emergency work at the scene includes issuing instructions, providing support and carrying out crowd control to eliminate danger. The city did not reveal which departments the six belonged to or what they were in charge of on the day, on the grounds of protection of personal information.

    A representative of the city's fire department general affairs division commented, "Paramedics and others mentally train themselves as they work at the scenes of accidents and fires, but shootings are unique, and (in Japan) they usually don't see gunshot wounds. They were shocked by the 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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