Taiwan paratrooper injured in accident ahead of Han Kuang military exercise

Commander Chin's condition improving, but not out of danger yet

Chief of General Staff Lee Hsi-ming explains Thursday's parachute incident to reporters.

Chief of General Staff Lee Hsi-ming explains Thursday's parachute incident to reporters. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)— An army paratrooper fell from the sky during Thursday morning's rehearsal for the Han Kuang military exercises at the Chingchuankang Air Force Base in Taichung.

The Ministry of National Defense reported that on May 17 Commander Chin Liang-feng (秦良丰), a senior private of the army special warfare force, participated in the 6:00 am military drill rehearsal. When he jumped out of the C-130H transport plane, Chin could not deploy his parachute nor his reserve parachute.

He was in free-fall and fell to the ground from 1,300 feet (about 130 stories high). Chin was immediately rushed to the Tungs’ Taichung Metro Harbor Hospital for emergency treatment.

Dr. Lu Li-hua (盧立華), Chief Executive of the Emergency Department of Tungs’ Taichung Metro Harbor Hospital, told the Central News Agency (CNA) that Chin had experienced out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) before arriving to the hospital. He had also suffered a brain skull base fractures, sub-retinal hemorrhage, cervical spine over-stretch injuries, chest sternal fractures, left pneumothorax and bilateral lung contusion, second and third lumbar fractures, and left lumbar hematoma, among other injuries.

Dr. Lu pointed out that Chin went into shock due to his extensive injuries. After the emergency rescue, the patient had recovered from cardiac arrest, and after four hours of treatment, he had responded to sounds, reports said.

Chin’s original coma index improved from a level of 3 out of 14 (a deep state of unconsciousness) on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) to a coma index between 7-8. His blood pressure and pulse signs seemed to be stable, but he was not out of danger yet.

After hearing the news, Defense Minister Yen Te-fa (嚴德發) expressed his concern and dissatisfaction about today’s incident. He has instructed the General Staff Chief Li Hsi-ming (李喜明) to lead the task force to investigate the cause of this incident.

The Ministry of National Defense stresses that it has been ordered to require all military units to implement various safety and security inspections. Personnel education has also been mandated to ensure the safety of training drills and to prevent future incidents.

General Wu Li-wen, Army and Special Warfare Commander and General Director of the Military and Warfare, said in an interview with CNA that Chin was recruited into the army in 2015 and transferred from compulsory service to voluntary service. He has served for 3 years now.

This was Chin’s eleventh time parachuting. Officers like him have completed all basic parachute training and re-education training, and were properly prepared, officials said.

General Wu pointed out that the cause of the incident was under investigation, and the inclusion of equipment, parachutes, weather and other factors were not ruled out. When the main parachute did not deploy, the backup parachute would be pulled immediately during training.

The status of the soldiers on the parachute due to lack of wind, will fall faster than usual, the original parachute time is 60 seconds. This time, it only took about 26 seconds to reach the ground. The main parachute did not open in the the 6-second reaction time.

The Han Kuang Military Exercises (漢光演習) is the annual military drill of Taiwan’s Armed Forces. The exercise is divided into two parts, the Command Post Exercise (CPX) and the computer-simulated war gaming followed by Field Training Exercises (FTX).

The Taiwanese Han Kuang military exercises include 34 types of drills and is expected to conduct live-fire drills from June 4 to 8. They will be divided into four major categories: "sea-air joint operations,” "northern anti-landing operations,” and "southern anti-landing operations,” and "central joint anti-air (machine) drop operations.”