Department of National Defence

Department of National Defence

November 21, 2012 15:40 ET

Canadian Forces Awarded Highest NATO Honour for Medical Achievements in Afghanistan

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 21, 2012) - Today, at the semi-annual meeting of the Committee of the Chiefs of Military Medical Services at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) headquarters in Brussels, the Dominique-Jean Larrey Award was awarded to Canada for its establishment and command of the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, from 2006 to 2009. It was the first ever NATO multi-national field hospital involved in combat operations.

The Dominique-Jean Larrey Award is the highest honour for medical support that NATO bestows. It is awarded in recognition of a significant and lasting contribution to NATO multi-nationality and/or interoperability or to improvements in the provision of health care in NATO missions within the areas of military medical support or military healthcare development. This is only the second time the award has been granted.

This award was received by Brigadier-General Jean-Robert Bernier, the Canadian Forces (CF) Surgeon General, and Colonel Jacques Ricard, the first Commander of the medical unit. The CF were honoured for their outstanding leadership and the extraordinary clinical success throughout the mission, with the highest survival rate for war victims recorded to date. The CF were also commended for their groundbreaking work in integrating multinational health teams comprised of military and civilian personnel from partner nations, including Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

"It is with great pleasure that I extend my personal congratulations to the Canadian Forces Surgeon General and the men and women who led and served at the NATO Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit for almost four years of operation from 2006 to 2009," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "With the strong support of the Canadian Joint Task Forces and the Canadian Forces operation commands, the Canadian Forces Health Services team and augmentees from allied forces provided exemplary health care throughout the mission and the Role 3 was considered one of the world's best trauma facilities. Under the Canadian Forces' leadership, NATO casualties who made it to the Role 3 with vital signs had a 98 per cent chance of leaving the hospital alive."

"The health of our men and women in uniform is a top priority for this government and this award is a testament to the quality of care we provide," continued Minister Mackay. "The international leadership and professionalism exhibited at the Role 3 hospital emphasize that our health services personnel are among the best in the world, and the overall success of the unit is a tribute to all its members."

"With the support of many Canadian Forces elements, the Role 3 Multinational Medical Unit provided superb advanced surgical and medical care to coalition, Afghan civilian and enemy casualties in an extremely difficult environment and under threat of attack. Over 800 Canadian Forces Health Services personnel worked there with coalition partners during the period of Canadian command," said Brigadier-General Bernier. "This award is a testament to the extraordinary dedication and professionalism of the Canadian and allied military and civilian personnel who served there. The team always maintained the highest ethical and clinical standards in treating our patients and in mentoring Afghan military health personnel. This is a very proud day for Canada and for the Canadian Forces Health Services."

The CF, with the support of their health care partners, are committed to providing full spectrum care and the highest standard of health care possible to Canada's military personnel, wherever and whenever they serve. As part of this commitment, on September 12, 2012, Minister MacKay announced an additional $11.4 million to augment mental health care and preventive programs in the CF. This initiative, spearheaded by Minister MacKay, brings the CF's annual health care budget to approximately $440 million.

Notes to editor/news director: For more information, please visit the links below.

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