Erwin R Thal HON FRACS
31 August 1936 - 13 December 2014
Dr. Erwin R. Thal received Honorary Fellowship of the College in May 2010 for his significant contributions to the College's education and training in trauma care. Below is the citation prepared by A/Prof Michael Hollands.
"Erwin Thal is a great friend of this College and has made an enormous contribution to the care of injured patients in Australia and New Zealand. He is Professor of Surgery, Trauma, Burns and Critical Care at theUniversityofTexas,SouthwesternMedicalSchool.
He studied medicine at Ohio State University School of Medicine and served his internship and general surgical residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He joined the staff as an instructor in the Dept. Of Surgery and a year later, in 1970, was appointed Head of the Surgical Emergency Room. He became Associate Professor of Surgery in 1975 serving in this capacity until 1982 when he was appointed Professor of Surgery. He chaired post-graduate education in his department from 1981 until 2001.
Erwin's list of publications is extensive. His first paper, on arterial injuries, appeared in 1971. Erwin has contributed to over 40 book chapters and authored 4 books. He has served as a consultant reviewer for the Journal of Trauma and Archives of Surgery and was Editor of Postgraduate Surgery from 1989 until 1992.
Erwin has served on many university, hospital and college committees over the years, reflecting his interest in surgical education and trauma/acute care surgery. Erwin joined theAmericanCollegeof Surgeons Committee on Trauma in 1981, remaining a member until 1994 and served as Chairman between 1986 and 1990. He was Vice President of the American Association for the Surgery of Trauma, and of the Western Surgical Association. In 1980 Erwin joined the Advanced Trauma Life Support Faculty serving in various capacities up to the present. He was Governor of the North Texas Chapter of theAmericanCollegefor 6 years between 1998 and 2004.
He has received many honours throughout a long and productive career. These include a Distinguished Service Award from the American Trauma Society and an Outstanding Service Award from theAmericanCollegeof Surgeons. He was appointed the Scudder Orator in 1992, his presentation was entitled "Out of Apathy". In 2000 he was the Minnie Stevens Piper Professor recognising "superior teaching" at college level. In 2000 he was the visitor for the Military Section at the ASC presenting 4 excellent papers on the care of injured patients.
He has made substantial contributions not only to surgical education and trauma but also to his community especially the American Red Cross.
It is Erwin's many contributions to trauma care in Australia and New Zealand that this Honorary Fellowship seeks to recognise. Many Australasian surgeons have visited Erwin's unit atParkland. As Chairman of the Committee on Trauma (CoT), Erwin played a major role in the successful negotiations between the CoT and the FRACS which led to the promulgation of the Advanced Trauma Life Support Course inAustraliaandNew Zealand. Erwin was a member of the faculty of initial Provider Course and the subsequent Instructor Course in 1988. Locally known as EMST it is now an integral part of the training of all surgeons inAustraliaandNew Zealand.
A decade on, Erwin worked with a multi-national faculty including Stephen Deane to develop the Definitive Surgery for Trauma Care Course, a course devoted to teaching advanced surgical techniques in trauma care. He continues to teach the course all over the world with his Australian andNew Zealandcolleagues. Now run by IATSIC the course is taught in nearly 20 countries around the world.
Erwin's other major contribution to the care of injured patients in Australia and New Zealand was to trauma verification. Erwin was committed to the holistic care of injured patients. This meant not only their surgical care but also a full understanding of the trauma system, and the hospital trauma service. He played a major role in developing a verification program for trauma units attesting to their overall ability to care for injured patients. He was a member of the CoT's trauma verification committee from 1988 until 1995 and remains a senior reviewer for that program. Working closely with Peter Danne and Damien McMahon Erwin assisted in developing a trauma verification program here inAustraliaandNew Zealand.
Erwin's many contributions to the care of injured patients worldwide, and especially his contribution in Australia and New Zealand, make him a worthy recipient of Honorary Fellowship of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons."
Michael Hollands FRACS