Details of his award are available on the Governor General’s Website. Click on the following links for more information.
About the Commendation for Distinguished Service Award: (Only 271 awards have been presented since its inception.)
Alan wrote the following article about this award for an Airforce publication and you will find it most informative.
Reporter to Alan:
Could you explain briefly your role at the Role 3 MMU?
I deployed to Kandahar AirField (KAF) with Force Support Unit 2 for just under nine months from Aug 2009 - Apr 2010. My two primary tasks were looking after the healthcare of the Aussie personnel who were located at KAF and fulfilling the role of the Aeromedical Evacuation Operations Officer - East. This second role meant that I was responsible for the validation and planning of all aeromedical evacuations of ADF personnel that originated within Afghanistan. While these roles were demanding at times, on the whole I had a significant amount of spare capacity to get involved at the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit (R3 MMU), one of the two or three busiest tertiary level trauma hospitals in Afghanistan. Over past rotations, the RAAF doctors who preceded me had progressively built up a wonderful relationship with the R3 MMU and as such, my offer to the Canadian hospital hierarchy to assist was gratefully accepted. After a month of learning the ropes in the trauma bays, I was given the responsibility of becoming a Trauma Team Leader and working with a multinational team of nurses and medics. My trauma team was on-call 24hrs a day, seven days a week and we treated coalition forces, local nationals and others. The work was demanding, both physically and emotionally. The injuries we were treating were some of the most horrific that can be seen anywhere in the world and the frequency with which they presented was nothing short of shocking. I am certain that the professional experience I gained during this period will be invaluable as I continue my career as a medical officer in the RAAF.
What is the walking blood bank and how did you contribute to it?
Given the nature of the injuries treated at the KAF R3 MMU and other similar hospitals in Afghanistan, there is a frequent need for patients to receive blood transfusions as the result of massive haemorrhage from their injuries. Most of these blood products are transported to the hospital two or three times a week from the United States and other coalition countries. However, in times of multiple or even mass casualty situations or even in the case where a single patient requires a massive transfusion, the blood product stocks can be critically depleted. In some cases, a single patient can require upwards of 80units of blood, that's about 30 litres, or six times the amount of blood in the average person's body. In order to ensure that there is sufficient supplies of blood to cope with these situations the R3 MMU established the Walking Blood Bank (WBB). The WBB makes use of the fact that there are a large number of fit, healthy military personnel at these locations who can, when there is an immediate need, report to the hospital and donate their blood. As the blood is required immediately (in many cases it is merely a matter of minutes between taking the blood from the donor and transfusing it to the patient on the operating table), there is no opportunity to screen the blood as exhaustively as would occur back home. As such, all potential donors must be pre-screened for blood-borne diseases such as HIV, hepatitis and malaria by sending samples to Germany for testing. Once screened, the prospective donor is placed on a roll and in the event that blood is required they are contacted and transported to the hospital to make their donation. Previously, ADF personnel were not able to be included in this process. I felt strongly that this was an opportunity for us to contribute to the hospital in a meaningful way and at the same time boost the morale of everyone involved. After a great deal of liaising with both the Australian and United States medical hierarchies, ADF personnel were approved to be included in the scheme. By the time I returned to Australia at the end of my deployment, just under 50% of the ADF force deployed to KAF were registered on the Walking Blood Bank donor roll.
What have been the main highlights/achievements of your career?
Without a doubt, my deployment to KAF last year has been the best experience of my RAAF career to date. Shortly after I returned I was fortunate enough to be selected to study the Diploma in Aviation Medicine in London this year and although I have only recently arrived, I have been having a great experience already.
What does this honour mean to you?
I am extremely humbled by this honour, especially because what I achieved could not have been possible without the support and hard work of a great many other people. I was only able to achieve what I did due to the fantastic relationship that previous RAAF docs have built with the R3MMU. This relationship has been progressively built upon by each subsequent RAAF MO and the strong foothold we have forged at the R3MMU has many significant benefits in terms of the care we can provide sick or injured ADF personnel. In addition, I also had very supportive medical and unit hierarchies who gave me the flexibility I needed to perform my primary roles while also working in the hospital as I did. Most importantly of all was my medical teams, both the Army and RAAF health personnel who formed the medical unit who looked after the ADF personnel and also the multinational medical staff who I worked with in the trauma bays. Whilst the deployment was extremely demanding at times, it was an incredibly positive experience that I will never forget.
This award will be a constant reminder of my time there. Dr. Alan R Turner
Ben and Sarah are hosting an Australia Day party today and have many friends coming for that. I’m sure they will drink a toast to Alan for his outstanding achievements.
(Just as I am doing now!!!)
Alan L Turner was incredibly proud of his two sons, just as I am. You are both amazing, wonderful and so special ! Words are not sufficient. I love you dearly.