Located 50 km from Wakkanai, the northern tip of Hokkaido, Rishiri Island is known as Hokkaido's furthest island and home to around 4,500 people. Rishiri Island National Health Insurance Center Hospital is the only hospital with an inpatient unit and all emergency patients are brought to this hospital. In case the hospital is unable to treat patients, they will be transferred to another hospital on the mainland. During the night and when patients are in a life-threatening state, a Japanese Self Defense Force helicopter is requested for patient-transfer operations.
The hospital has been treating various illnesses with a small group of health care workers. As COVID-19 continues to spread across Japan, the hospital is forced to think of alternative measures to keep their hospital running. At their request, ARROWS conducted a patient-transfer operation training on April 5 on Rishiri Island and dispatched an airplane, doctor, and rescue team member. The training was based on a scenario where a patient with COVID-19 developed respiratory failure and needed an emergency transfer to a hospital outside the island. The training participants practiced transferring a patient from the hospital to Rishiri Airport and then from the airport to a hospital in Sapporo via ARROWS' airplane.