Taiwan opens first medical training centre for treating combat injuries as cross-strait tensions run high

With tensions running high across the Taiwan Strait and the risk of conflict looming, the island seeks to improve medical training for treating complex injuries like those seen in conflicts including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Israel-Gaza war.

“The inauguration of the tactical combat casualty care facility represents the overall upgrading of the expertise and training in the National Defence Medical Centre’s casualty care service,” Tsai said during a ceremony in Taipei on Monday.

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She said the centre would be responsible for cultivating medical officers and military emergency responders by strengthening their abilities to deal with combat casualties, which would increase Taiwanese soldiers’ chances of survival in a potential war.

Tsai also said the military should work with the civilian sector to strengthen trauma care services, saying the two sides could “effectively coordinate with each other for needed resources, thereby maximising our casualty care capacity”.

The plan to construct the NT$490 million (US$15.6 million) facility was conceived in 2018 after Taiwanese and US experts suggested a training centre was necessary in the face of escalating cross-strait tensions and growing military intimidation from the mainland.

Beijing views Taiwan as its territory to be taken under control, by force if necessary. It has intensified its military operations around the island in response to what it perceives as increased attempts by Taipei to pursue independence and work with Washington to counter the mainland.

The Taiwanese facility has trained nearly 3,800 military personnel to serve as medical workers in the event of a war, according to military officials. Photo: CNA

Like most countries, the United States – an informal ally and the island’s largest arms supplier – does not recognise Taiwan as an independent state but is opposed to any unilateral change of the cross-strait status quo by force.

Construction of the Taipei facility started in 2021 and became a priority following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which highlighted the need for combat casualty care services, according to centre officials.

With the help of the National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology, the island’s top weapons maker, the facility has been equipped with advanced systems with artificial intelligence and virtual reality functions to simulate tactical combat casualty care under conditions including mass destruction by weapons, chemicals and bioagents, the officials said.

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It also has virtual reality systems for training medical staff to work in high-intensity environments, cope with psychological pressure and keep patients alive during evacuations, the officials said.

They said the centre, which was modelled on similar facilities in the US, had held classes earlier this year to train nearly 3,800 military personnel to serve as medical workers in the event of a war.

The officials noted that Taiwan’s Health Ministry was also tasked with planning and preparing emergency wards in large hospitals on the island to treat soldiers and civilians.


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