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John Pearn on Drowning


John Pearn Citation


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Professor & Major General John Pearn MD, PhD (Australia)

Recipient of the 2005 Ireland Medal

John Pearn is Professor of Paediatrics and Child Health and  Deputy Head in the School of Medicine at the University of Queensland, based in the Royal Children’s Hospital, Brisbane.

A former Surgeon General of the Australian Defence Force, he commanded the Health Service Branches of the Royal Australian Navy, Air Force and the Army from 1997 to 2000.

During his military career he saw operational service in Papua New Guinea, in the Vietnam War and in post-genocide Rwanda. Most recently he served as a paediatrician and tropical medicine physician  in post-tsunami Sumatra. 

He served as National Director of Training for St. John Ambulance Australia from 1989 to 1999 during which time he was Editor – in – Chief of the training manual Australian First Aid.

His lifesaving activities go back to the early 1970s. In 1974 he instituted the Brisbane Drowning Study in a groundbreaking attempt to address the serious problem of toddler drownings in Australia.

In addition to studying this problem he actively worked for the introduction of safety legislation for home swimming pools. 

He has published over 50 articles and book chapters on drowning related topics in international medical and resuscitation literature.  He was appointed a Technical Lecturer and Examiner with Royal Lifesaving Australia in 1976.

More recently he served on the World Task Force on the Prevention of Drowning for the Amsterdam Drowning Congress and is a member of  International Life Savings Medical Commission and is  chairman of its Ethics Commission.