On April 21, on the occasion of its 40th annual scientific meeting and conference held in Edmonton, the Trauma Association of Canada (TAC) honoured one of our own. Dr. Robert Green, Senior Medical Director of (the) Nova Scotia Health (NSH) Trauma Program received the 2023 Charles Burns TAC Board Recognition Award. In commemoration of TAC’s first president, the award is presented to a physician or other health professional who has demonstrated “outstanding leadership, endless passion, a spirit of volunteerism and who is considered a visionary and innovator in the field of trauma care by their colleagues.”.
A native of New Brunswick and 20-year veteran of trauma care in Nova Scotia, Dr. Green trained in emergency medicine through the University of Manitoba, followed by a two- year trauma and critical care fellowship. At the time he took on the directorship of the NSH Trauma Program nearly 10 years ago, he was working full-time in critical care and .5 FTE in the emergency department. Today, Dr. Green splits his time between the trauma program administration, the new trauma care consult service and critical care with an occasional check-in with his old colleagues in the emergency department.
Dr. Green describes receiving the TAC award as “an incredible and unexpected honour”.
He adds, “I’ve been hard at work in my little corner of Canada for a long time and we’re just hitting our stride now. It’s taken a number of years to create the relationships that needed to happen; to set out the vision of trauma care in Nova Scotia that I think needed buy-in from the highest levels of both government and NSH and it’s really validating on a national level to be recognized for the work we’ve been doing. There’s no way I could do any of the stuff we’ve accomplished without a huge and dedicated team–not just the clinicians but also the staff in our office and our co-leads.”
Brea Gillis, colleague and friend for the past 10 years, working first as a RN in Emergency and since November 2022 as the provincial education for the trauma program, is the person who nominated Green for the award. When asked why she made the nomination, Brie replied, “When you look at that list of qualities of performance and dedication, he checks off all the boxes.”
A particular passion of Dr. Green’s is raising public awareness, through direct exchanges, of primary and secondary preventive measures that can be taken by ordinary citizens, young and old, to save lives. “It has always intrigued me being forward facing with the public and a lot of this job has taught me the importance of that. People really appreciate when someone from health care speaks directly to them and takes the time to answer their questions.”
Furthermore, says Dr. Green, “Many trauma patients–as many as 70% – die before they get to us. We can't save them if they don't get to us.”
A recent project of Dr. Green’s involved drama students from Citadel High who, with the assistance of their teacher and recorded by a hired videographer, performed “before and after” skits about on-site trauma care by ordinary people. The scenarios, created by Dr. Green, involved a fisherman who sustains a harpoon injury to his leg. In the first scene, a burly young fellow, untrained, attempts and fails to save the man’s life. In the second scene, a rather slight young woman who has been taught appropriate first aid measures is able to successfully stabilize the patient while waiting for professional help to arrive. Both Brie ____ and Dr. Green were blown away by the enthusiasm of the students and their wide-ranging questions, from “Are those Dance Code shoes you’re wearing?” (To Dr. Green) to “how do you spell exsanguination?”. Dr. Green hopes to take the video and turn it into a TED-talk style of public presentation, starting perhaps at one of his favourite places in Halifax, the Central Library.
In addition to his newest plunge into the world of theatre, Dr. Green has conducted research on scooter and bike safety, distracted driving, and resuscitation in the field.
The trauma care program’s involvement with Heal Nova Scotia which began in response to the tragedy currently involves partnership with Dalhousie University researchers investigating intimate partner violence and how that work intersects with trauma. “I think I can help open doors for those researchers”, says Dr. Green. “The whole reason we started Heal Nova Scotia is to bring a new perspective to research work–to what’s important to (Nova Scotians) and not necessarily as important to the researchers.”
Toward the end of the interview, Dr. Green again turns his attention to the importance of acknowledging people, wherever they are working, who are doing an exceptional job in trauma care. He mentions five RCMP officers who were recently given a community trauma award for saving lives in the line of duty.
Next year’s annual TAC scientific meeting and conference will be held in Halifax and Dr. Green, as both the 2023 recipient of the Charles Burns TAC Board Recognition Award and the chair of TAC’s newly formed national trauma team leaders committee, will be giving the award to another deserving health care professional.