Colonel Carl Walker
Notes for Remarks by Dr. Myron Haluk
Chair, Emergency Medicine Section
Ontario Medical Association
On the Presentation of the 2010 OMA Section on
Emergency Medicine Career Service Award to
Colonel Carl Michael Walker
Our Second recipient of the 2010 Career Service Award is Colonel Carl Walker.
Tonight is a night of mixed emotions. We are honouring the outstanding career contributions to emergency medicine of Colonel Carl Michael Walker. And, with his family, friends and colleagues – here in Canada and around the world — we mourn his recent passing. On behalf of the OMA, I want to extend our sympathies to you, Christina, and to Jennifer, Tiffany and Paul, and to all of Carl’s family. All of the emergency physician and nurses who worked with him knew, and really enjoyed, how he would never miss an opportunity to brag about you – and his face would light up with a big smile when he did. Carl was passionate about, you, his family and about his
work. With you, we miss him deeply. I am pleased to be able to tell you that, before his passing, Carl learned that he was to be presented with this
award. He was totally surprised and very honoured – and – as those who were fortunate to know and work with Carl, typically humble.
I would like to tell you about Colonel Carl Walker and why he was the Nominations Committee’s unanimous choice for this year’s award.
Carl Walker had a unique perspective on life that came from his experience as a military officer and an emergency physician. To him the world was not "the way it is” - it is the way we make it. He was a dreamer who worked to make those dreams come true. Throughout his career, he was recognized for his professionalism, his leadership skills, his humanity — and his hard work — qualities that he consistently demonstrated from his student and residency days, during his military career and in Ontario hospital ERs.
Writing in 2003 to congratulate Carl on a recent
commendation – one of many he received - his
commanding officer said that the commendation was “an example of what can arise when someone pursues the goals and steers the course for a worthwhile cause.” Setting worthwhile goals and steering the course to achieve them was what defined Carl’s professional, family and community life.
Carl was the son of a military family, born on the RCFA air force base in Cold Lake, Alberta, . He
and his family moved around a lot between Canada and United States, finishing high school in North Bay, Ontario in 1978. He completed a Bachelor of Science in Biological Engineering at the University of Guelph in 1982. While at Guelph, he received several engineering scholarships, including the prestigious National Science and Engineering Research Council undergraduate engineering award.
He went on to receive a Masters of Applied Science in
Industrial Engineering in 1984 from the University of Toronto. His early interest in medicine was reflected in his master's thesis work in the medical ultrasound area at the Institute of Biomedical Engineering. After finishing graduate training in engineering, he was hired as a defence scientist at what is now Defence Research and Development Canada in Toronto (formerly the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine).
In 1985, Carl entered the Faculty of Medicine at the
University of Toronto. In 1986, he entered the military
under the Medical Officer Training Plan. He graduated at the top of his medical school class, receiving the Gold Medal in surgery and Chappell prize in clinic surgery. Carl served in the Air Force for over 24 years.
On completing medical school in 1990, he was promoted to Captain. His first posting was to Germany. There, he spent his first tour as a Regimental Medical Officer with the 8th Canadian Hussars. While in Germany, he subsequently completed the 1 year unaccredited surgical
residency position at the CF Hospital in Lahr.
In 1994, Carl was promoted to Major and posted to CFB Bagotville in Quebec as the Wing Surgeon. In 1995 he attended postgraduate training in Aerospace Medicine in Pensacola Florida where he was senior resident. There, he was recognized as “eager to learn, always there to help” – a description that anyone who knew Carl would recognize as a constant, throughout his career. Carl’s research interests positively affected both Canadian Forces and other countries’ military forces. During his residency, he presented research papers at the Aerospace Medicine Association meeting in Chicago. His commanding officer in the US Department of the Navy said this research would produce major changes in the way the US Navy screened its aircrew and result in large dollar savings. The publication of this research was one of several areas where Carl’s work had an international impact. During Carl’s time in Pensacola he was a Flight Surgeon which support the Atlantis Space Shuttle launch in September 1996, and the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery in February 1997. Carl also supported the recovery of the Space Shuttle Columbia in July 1997, for which he received a commendation from NASA. Carl also had a rare opportunity to be the senior flight surgeon during an operational exercise on the USS Theodore Roosevelt Aircraft Carrier.
In 1997, Carl was posted to 1 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg as the Aeromedical Standards and Clinical Services Flight Surgeon. In 2000, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and took over as the 1 CAD Division Surgeon. When Carl left Winnipeg, he received an Air Command commendation for his work in producing two National Defence Index of Documentation (NDID) documents that are used throughout the Canadian Forces by the Flight Surgeon, and Search and Rescue Technician communities.
In 2004, Carl was deployed to Afghanistan as the Task
Force Surgeon and Commanding Officer of the Role 1 (ROTO 1) Canadian Field Hospital in Kabul, Afghanistan. The same year, he was promoted to Colonel and appointed Commanding Officer of the Canadian Forces Environmental Medicine Establishment.
In addition to his military service in Afghanistan and with NASA and the US Navy, Carl also worked with NATO and the Russian Ministry of Defence. His military commanders frequently cited his effectiveness as an ambassador for Canadian Forces and for Canada, for his skills in working effectively with his international peers, and for his success in complex, sensitive and difficult situations.
Carl ended his air force career in 2010 as the Chief of the Air Force Surgeon, specializing in Aerospace Medicine.
In addition to publishing several papers that changed
medicine in many countries, Carl was a frequent and
popular speaker who made outstanding presentations.
For example, his 2002 presentation, Joint Coalition
Operation in the Search, Rescue and Aeromedical
Evacuation of Survivors of a Terrorist Downed Aircraft in Remote Northwestern Canada, made to a Canadian / US military working group, was cited by senior Canadian and US military officers for its effectiveness. His publications include papers on Search and Rescue Pre-Hospital Protocols and Procedures, CF Flight Surgeon’s Guideline for Flight Safety Investigation and Other Flight Line Duties, and Role of the Flight Surgeon in Fighter Squadron Arctic Deployments.
Carl began working as an EM physician in 1997 – at the Grace, Misericordia and Victoria hospitals in Winnipeg, Montfort Hospital in Ottawa, and at Lakeridge Health in Oshawa. In 2009, Lakeridge Health recognized Carl with its Special Recognition Award for his outstanding contributions to LHO Emergency department and its community.
Other commendations he received include:
From the Chief of the Air Staff, National Defence:
·The Air Command Commendation for outstanding
professionalism and commitment to the Aerospace
medical community, including the development of
medical standards documentation that set a high
medical standard for search and rescue technicians,
flight surgeons and aero medical evacuation
personnel throughout the Canadian Forces and
From the Russian Ministry of Defence:
· Awarded the medal for the strengthening of
comradeship-in-arms and military co-operation. The
pre-hospital protocols for Canadian SAR Technicians
that were developed under Carl’s leadership were
translated by the Russians and used as a model by
their parachute rescue service (2003).
From the US Navy:
-The Garry Award for the best research paper
published in Aviation research (1999).
I wanted to read a few words that clarify Carl’s
contribution to delivery of health care. This is from
Commodore H.W. Jung, Surgeon General, Commander
Canadian Forces Health Services Group:
“It is with great pleasure I write this letter of posthumous recognition in support of Dr Walker’s nomination for the OMA Career Service Award. He was a respected professional and I can think of no one more deserving of such an honour.
Dr. Walker has made a significant impact on the health of thousands of people, both military and civilian, through his entire career. Emergency medicine was always his passion and despite a very busy and successful military health care career, he was able to commit to emergency medicine by practicing in the evening, on weekends and even during his well deserved leave.
It is impossible to provide the full spectrum of Dr.
Walker’s impact on healthcare however as an example, his unique skills as both an emergency physician and specialist in aerospace medicine were most instrumental in several areas. Such examples include the development of the Canadian Forces Search and Rescue Technician (SAR Tech) Protocols in the early 90’s, and most recently, in the past year, he was able to stand up a forward aero medical evacuation capability in the Canadian Forces. Both of these accomplishments have, and will continue to have, and impact on the lives of thousands of men and women, military and civilian, that find themselves ill or injured in the most remote and austere parts of Canada and the World. Dr Walker’s influence has gone well beyond the delivery of health care. His leadership and mentorship has helped develop many care providers and health care leaders for the future in both our organizations. His contributions to society will live on well beyond us all and he will be sorely missed.”
The Honourable Minister of National Defence Mr. Peter Mackay was unable to attend our OMA AGM to present the award to Dr Walker’s family. Minister Mackay wrote to us commenting on the tremendous contribution Carl made to the emergency care of troops in operations as a Task Force Surgeon in Afghanistan and the high regard Carl was held by the broader Canadian and allied NATO medical and scientific communities.
The OMA’s EM section is privileged to be among those who have formally recognized Colonel Carl Walker’s outstanding contributions to Ontario, to Canada and to the global community as a physician, military officer and citizen.
While we mourn the loss of Carl, we, and all who knew and worked with him, know that his legacy will continue among the many physicians, other clinicians and military personnel that he worked with, led, trained and mentored – especially the legacy of his values of family, professionalism, compassion, and always being “eager to learn and ready to help.”
The OMA’s EM section is proud to present its Career
Service Award, posthumously, to:
Colonel Carl Michael Walker