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Top international awards for RAF aerospace doctors

Two RAF doctors have received international accolades for their work, at the Aerospace Medical Association's annual scientific conference and awards.

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A Medical Emergency Response Team treats a casualty on board an RAF Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan

A Medical Emergency Response Team treats a casualty on board an RAF Chinook helicopter in Afghanistan (stock image) [Picture: Corporal Mike O'Neill, Crown Copyright/MOD 2009]

Wing Commander Ian Mollan and Dr Mike Trudgill both received awards for their operational work in aviation medicine at the awards ceremony in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.

Wg Cdr Mollan was presented with the Mary T Klinker Award for significant contributions to, and achievements in, the field of aeromedical evacuation. It is the first time that the award has been presented to a recipient from outside the USA.

During the period 2006 to 2010, Wg Cdr Mollan was the Officer Commanding the Aeromedical Evacuation Co-ordination Centre for the UK; repatriating patients during some of the busiest periods of conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, including protracted periods of daily Critical Care Air Support Team movements.

As the sole validating flight surgeon, Wg Cdr Mollan provided aeromedical decision-making for incredibly complex multi-trauma cases from operations, 365-days-a-year, for the entire four years. Not only did he validate over 18,000 British patients, he co-ordinated 2,500 US patients and fostered many international co-operative aeromedical evacuation initiatives and patient moves through NATO, the Air and Space Interoperability Council and the European Union.

Wg Cdr Mollan has been instrumental in developing the Interfly Agreement that has saved the lives of both UK and US servicemen by enabling care support and clinical considerations in aeromedical transport teams to work together on the same aircraft, bolstering the capacity to respond to missions requiring multiple critical care movements.

Wing Commander Ian Mollan (left) and Dr Mike Trudgill

Wing Commander Ian Mollan (left) and Dr Mike Trudgill at the Aerospace Medical Association's annual scientific conference and awards ceremony [Picture: Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]

Over this period, not only has he worked tirelessly on real-time missions, he has striven to advance the capability of aeromedical evacuation through technology, organisation and fostering international co-operation.

His vision anticipated where unplanned diversions and use of other nations’ assets could save life and made available UK assets to other nation’s patients. He has specifically enhanced the co-operation with the USA by initiating inclusion of the UK on the US Global Patient Movement Joint Advisory Board.

On receiving the award, Wg Cdr Mollan said:

I am very humbled to have received this award. It is a delight that the work of the RAF aeromedical evacuation service has been internationally recognised as being of the highest quality during the busiest operational period on record. I am thrilled to have been selected to receive this award.

Meanwhile, Dr Mike Trudgill was presented with the John Paul Stapp Award for outstanding contributions in the field of aerospace biomechanics and promotion of progress in protection from injury resulting from ejection, vibration and impact.

Dr Trudgill serves as Department Head and Officer in Charge of the Aircrew Equipment Integration Group at the RAF Centre of Aviation Medicine, where he is one of four full-time specialists in aviation medicine. Together with his department, Dr Trudgill has become the RAF’s leading expert in aircrew equipment form, fit and function.

Output from this unique and talented team is diverse and fast-moving. Having worked on over 20 aircraft platforms last year alone, and produced in excess of 50 technical reports, Dr Trudgill has led the drive for the development of national and international aircrew equipment integration standards; with a Defence Standard covering integration and testing of aircrew equipment assembles, and a further National Standard for functional cockpit assessments.

His recent work in support of both Operations HERRICK (Afghanistan) and ELLAMY (Libya) highlighted the potential operational risk from the current fielded lightweight body armour caused by otherwise survivable low impact aircraft crash scenarios. His findings emphasised the need for a redesign of the carrier system to ensure aircrew are not incapacitated by the equipment upon which they rely to save their lives.

Dr Trudgill was also elected to the Fellowship of the Aerospace Medical Association.

Separately, Group Captain David Gradwell, Whittingham Professor of Aviation Medicine at the RAF Centre for Aviation Medicine, was elected as Vice President of the Aerospace Medical Association. It is the first time that a serving RAF officer has ever been elected to the position.

Gp Capt Gradwell said:

Aerospace medicine is a highly important operational topic for any air force, in particular for the RAF at this time. It is a delight that the work of the RAF Medical Services has been internationally recognised as being operationally relevant and of the highest quality.

Published 12 June 2012