Emergency services cards  on display on Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan, Aug. 8, 2023.

Emergency services cards on display on Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan, Aug. 8, 2023. (Savannah Mesimer/U.S. Marine Corps)

YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan – Even a Marine can end up needing help in a tight spot, especially in a foreign country.

The Marine Corps is handing out wallet-sized cards with emergency contacts and phone numbers to members of the III Marine Expeditionary Force on Okinawa, the command said in a news release Tuesday.

The contact cards are “an effort to cut through any confusion and ensure all of us understand required steps and have critical points of contact on hand in an emergency situation,” III MEF commander Lt. Gen. James W. Bierman said in a June 8 message.

Printed on the front are Department of Defense emergency services numbers for Okinawa and Japan’s emergency services number, 119, and dialing instructions.

On the back, seven installations on main-island Japan are listed with their associated numbers.

The phone numbers are reachable from both Japanese and U.S. mobile phones, the release said.

More than 45,000 plastic, wallet-sized cards are being prepared for distribution to Marines, sailors, civilians and their families on Okinawa, according to the release.

More than 18,000 Marines, sailors and their families are stationed on Okinawa, according to Marine Corps Installations Pacific.

The commander had hoped to get the cards out by early summer but encouraged everyone to take photographs of the cards online or write the numbers down, he said in the message.

Even though the information has been available to Marines and their families for some time, the quick access card was an idea produced in May by the Access to Emergency Care working group, III MEF spokesman Capt. Brett Dornhege-Lazaroff said by phone Thursday.

“This was just good to have,” he said.

Lazaroff said the idea did not stem from any specific incident, including the battering the island took recently from Typhoon Khanun.

“The personnel and their families who keep us mission-ready are our most valuable resource,” said Michelle Wozniak, of the III MEF Force Preservation team, in the release. “It is imperative that they know how to seek help or assistance when needed.”

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Juan King is a reporter, photographer and web editor at Yokota Air Base, Japan. He joined the U.S. Navy in 2004 and has been assigned to Stars and Stripes since 2021. His previous assignments have taken him to Afghanistan, Bahrain, Guam and Japan.

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