Norman E. McSwain, MD
1938 - 2015
Dr. McSwain attended The University of The South in Sewanee, Tennessee and then returned to his birthplace of Alabama to learn medicine under Dr. Tinsley Harrison (of Harrison’s Textbook of Medicine fame) and surgery from Dr. Champ Lyons at the University of Alabama School of Medicine. After completing two years of surgical training at Bowman-Gray School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, McSwain then joined the Air Force. There he performed more than a thousand surgical procedures. After his service he went to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta to finish his initial education as a surgeon. Over the next three years, he learned more about true patient care as a partner in private practice with Dr. Harrison Rogers in Atlanta before he joined the clinical and academic faculty at the University of Kansas in Kansas City.
While there he was given the responsibility of EMS education and system development for the State of Kansas. When he was recruited four years later to Tulane University School of Medicine, Department of Surgery and Charity Hospital in New Orleans, he left behind 90 percent of the population of Kansas covered by paramedic quality care within ten minutes of home, and one out of every 500 Kansas (including the entire Kansas Highway Patrol) trained as an EMT-Basic.
Serving as academic and clinical faculty at Tulane, McSwain’s main interest was in pre-hospital patient care through Charity Hospital, considered to be one of the three most important trauma centers in the United States at the time. Through his work there, he was recruited by the City of New Orleans to develop an EMS system for the city. He initiated both the EMT-Basic and EMT-Paramedic training within the New Orleans Police Department as well as a citywide EMS system.
McSwain also was recruited to the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma to assist in the development of the Advanced Trauma Life Support program. He worked with the ACS/COT and NAEMT to develop the PHTLS program. Today, PHTLS has trained over half a million people in 45 countries. It is considered to be the world standard for pre-hospital trauma care.
He has worked with the military and the Department of Defense to develop the Tactical Combat Casualty Care program for military medics. For the past 30 years, he has provided care to severely injured police officers at Charity Hospital and has written or revised more than 25 textbooks, published more than 360 articles and traveled throughout the world giving 800 presentations. McSwain has lectured in each of the U.S.’s 50 states and in all of Canada’s provinces, most of the countries in Europe and Central America.