'I'm Relieved I Was Exposed to Radiation Most': Rescue Leader

'I'm Relieved I Was Exposed to Radiation Most': Rescue Leader

'I'm Relieved I Was Exposed to Radiation Most': Rescue Leader

Last Friday evening, the 47-year-old hopped into a vehicle specially designed to measure radiation levels and headed to the crippled plant, which has suffered a series of accidents and radiation leaks since it was badly damaged by the March 11 quake and tsunami.

The Tokyo fire department's third district hyper rescue squad led by Ishii was preparing to spray water onto the damaged No. 3 reactor at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Ishii told Jiji Press that he was the first to enter the reactor side to find out which areas had the highest levels of radiation before deciding where to deploy his fire trucks.

However, the team made little headway, according to Ishii. Quay walls, which were expected to help firefighters pump in seawater, had collapsed, while a storage tank littered the roads due to the tsunami, making it difficult to get hoses to the site.

Although they all had radiation detectors on their chests, there was little time to check dose levels during operations.

Ishii measured amounts of radiation on a troop that carried hoses to the reactor.

"I always accompanied troop members so that I can be exposed to the same amount as them," Ishii says. He called out radiation levels through the heavy protective gears he wore and let them know.

"Water is coming out," Ishii heard a report from radio.

"I felt a sense of accomplishment when I first heard the words," Ishii says. "I believe everybody else there had the same feeling." Ishii left the site after making sure that all the members escaped from there.

Then, he noticed that his radiation detector showed 27 millisieverts per hour, the highest level among all the members.

"I was relieved," Ishii says. "If my level is the highest, that means everybody else is safer than I." "This is the way our team pursues our mission." Before entering into the crucial site, he said to his team "This will be real tough work. Are you sure you want to do this?" Everyone said "Yes." No one complained.
"I'm proud of my team members," Ishii says.

"Every single person has to fight for Japan." "I plan to go back to the site, if I receive an order," he says.

His team, which came back to the headquarters in Tokyo's Shibuya Ward, is performing routine maintenance work on equipment for the next deployment.