Taiwan's Handling of Mass Burn Victims at Water Park Draws Attention Abroad

Taiwan's Handling of Mass Burn Victims at Water Park Draws Attention Abroad
Photo Credit: Reuters/達志影像

What you need to know

A year after a deadly explosion at a Taiwan water park, the EU and a number of countries are seeking advice from Taiwan on how to treat large numbers of burn victims.

A horrible dust explosion at the Formosa Fun Coast recreational water park in Bali, New Taipei City, in June last year, which caused 12 deaths and more than 500 injuries — 300 with burns on more than 60% of their body — made headlines worldwide. A year later, Taiwan's ability to handle the complex emergency has drawn the attention of several countries that want to learn from its experience.

Last month, the E.U. invited a commitee from Taiwan to share its experiences dealing with burn patients on such a large scale.

The June 27 explosion was the largest public safety incident since the 1999 Jiji Earthquake (also known as the 921 Earthquake), which left more than 2,400 dead.

According to Business Today, the dust explosion broke the world record for the amount of burn patients, but the overall death rate was 2.4%. Among the reasons for the low death rate were the rapid spiriting of patients to hospitals all over the nation, the activation by all the medical facilities involved of mass-casualty incident management systems, and an effective division of the workload.

Following the incident, the government promised to loosen the standards for victims seeking compensation and imported large quantities of transplant tissue for skin grafting.

In an interview with the Central News Agency in January, Stephen Milner, director of the Burn Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said the U.S. has no experience dealing with large numbers of burn victims and that countries should learn from how Taiwan dealt with the incident.

James Fauerbach, a clinical psychologist, told CNA that while physiotherapy centers for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. were scattered all over the country, the victims of the dust explosion in Taiwan were brought to select rehabilitation centers so they could undergo physiotherapy together. With such peer support, the institutes were able to provide better integrated healthcare services.

Wang Tsung-hsi (王宗曦), director of the Department of Medical Affairs under the Ministry of Health and Welfare, told the Liberty Times that the international community was curious to find out more about how Taiwan launched its emergency medical system and successfully treated all patients.

The E.U. conference was held May 25-27. Taiwan was the only non-E.U. country invited.


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