The Tokyo subway sarin attack: disaster management, Part 1: Community emergency response

Acad Emerg Med. 1998 Jun;5(6):613-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1553-2712.1998.tb02470.x.


The Tokyo subway sarin attack was the second documented incident of nerve gas poisoning in Japan. Prior to the Tokyo subway sarin attack, there had never been such a large-scale disaster caused by nerve gas in peacetime history. This article provides details related to how the community emergency medical services (EMS) system responded from the viewpoint of disaster management, the problems encountered, and how they were addressed. The authors' assessment was that if EMTs, under Japanese law, had been allowed to maintain an airway with an endotracheal tube or use a laryngeal mask airway without physician oversight, more patients might have been saved during this chemical exposure disaster. Given current legal restrictions, advanced airway control at the scene will require that doctors become more actively involved in out-of-hospital treatment. Other recommendations are: 1) that integration and cooperation of concerned organizations be established through disaster drills; 2) that poison information centers act as regional mediators of all toxicologic information; 3) that a real-time, multidirectional communication system be established; 4) that multiple channels of communication be available for disaster care; 5) that public organizations have access to mobile decontamination facilities; and 6) that respiratory protection and chemical-resistant suits with gloves and boots be available for out-of-hospital providers during chemical disasters.

MeSH terms

  • Disaster Planning
  • Emergency Medical Services / organization & administration*
  • Humans
  • Rescue Work*
  • Sarin / poisoning*
  • Tokyo
  • Transportation
  • Violence*


  • Sarin