Tulane Trauma Surgeon Makes an Impact

January 16, 2006

Fran Simon
Phone: 504-247-1425

He's in good company - with actor/Parkinson's disease advocate Michael J. Fox and singer/humanitarian Harry Belafonte, to name two. Tulane University trauma surgeon Norman McSwain is honored with an Impact Award in the January/February issue of AARP - The Magazine.

Each year the Impact Awards celebrate 10 honorees who did something extraordinary to make the world a better place. McSwain, cited as a "Hurricane Hero" in the "People of the Year" feature, is recognized for his efforts caring for patients, helping evacuate patients, doctors and staff in the harrowing days following the storm, and "picking up the pieces of the city's shattered public health system."

To view the tribute online, go to:

And McSwain has received recognition from the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) with the 2005 Command Surgeon's Award. His efforts in the civilian sector have resulted in life-saving trauma care being advanced out of the hospital into the streets and ambulances, resulting in better-trained emergency medical technicians and thousands of lives saved, according to USSOCOM Command Surgeon Captain Frank Butler.

"The work that Dr. McSwain has pioneered and furthered over the years has helped save hundreds of lives on the battlefield to date and will undoubtedly save many more lives in battles to come. Dr. McSwain, by the way, was one of the true heroes of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The day after the storm hit, the levees broke and the city flooded. While others headed for the high ground, Dr. McSwain headed for Charity Hospital to make sure that his patients were safe. He stayed there at the hospital for the next six days, helping to keep them alive during the blackout and then helping to evacuate them to safety. Dr. McSwain did not stand down until every last patient had been evacuated."

McSwain is a professor of surgery at Tulane, where he has been on the faculty since 1977. He also is director of the Tulane trauma program and director of the residency program in the surgery department. He has served as trauma director at the Medical Center of Louisiana at New Orleans at New Orleans (Charity Hospital), surgeon for the New Orleans Police Department, and medical director of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.

He is founder of Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support, a nationally recognized protocol for the pre-hospital care of trauma patients that was introduced in 1983, and he has trained emergency medical personnel in scores of countries around the world. McSwain is the only person in the 80-year history of the American College of Surgeons to receive all five awards bestowed by the organization for outstanding accomplishments in the field of trauma.

In his illustrious career, McSwain has performed many heroic acts, sometimes delivering emergency care at the scene of a trauma before paramedics arrive. A number of years ago, when a boy's legs were crushed under a train, McSwain performed surgery lying on his stomach underneath the train, saving the boy's life.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000