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    Coast Guard awards UA professor

    Richard Carmona, right, a public health professor and former U.S. surgeon general, is presented an award by Adm. Thad W. Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard awarded Carmona for the work he did after Hurricane Katrina.
    Richard Carmona, right, a public health professor and former U.S. surgeon general, is presented an award by Adm. Thad W. Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. The Coast Guard awarded Carmona for the work he did after Hurricane Katrina.

    Richard Carmona, a public health professor and former U.S. surgeon general, was awarded for his public service after Hurricane Katrina and contributions to the nation as the surgeon general.

    Carmona was given the Distinguished Public Service Award by the U.S. Coast Guard Friday in the Student Union Memorial Center.

    “”Recognition for Dr. Carmona was due because of the overwhelming support that both he and his public health service staff provided in the aftermath of Katrina,”” said Adm. Thad W. Allen, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard and presenter of the award.

    On Sept. 9, 2005, Allen was designated by President Bush as the principal federal official for Hurricane Katrina response and recovery operations in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

    Allen said that shortly after he was assigned to handle operations in New Orleans, he called Carmona for much-needed assistance.

    “”Immediately after Richard arrived, we developed great teamwork and a great friendship,”” Allen said.

    During the five months following hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, Carmona coordinated the Commissioned Corps deployment response, including environmental health assistance for water, sewer system and food safety issues, Federal Emergency Management Agency support and deployment of the Strategic National Stockpile pharmaceutical caches, Allen said.

    Carmona visited shelters in all three states to ensure a hands-on assessment was made, while his Commissioned Corps officers cared for and staffed 2,250 beds in federal medical shelters for people who had been displaced from their homes.

    Carmona said he looked forward to the challenges that Allen assigned to him and the staff.

    The measures the Coast Guard took to help displaced victims and save lives were extraordinary, Carmona said.

    “”They did more rescues in the few months that they were in the region than they average for five years,”” he said. “”The Coast Guard accomplished the impossible 24 hours a day, seven days a week.””

    Working with the men and women in the Coast Guard in their efforts to help the people affected by Hurricane Katrina was a pleasure and privilege, added Carmona.

    “”Receiving this award was not expected, but it is one of the top honors I have had in my career,”” Carmona said. “”Working with the Coast Guard to assist those affected by Katrina was on of the best experiences of my career.””

    Carmona served as the 17th U.S. surgeon general from August 2002 to August 2006. Prior to serving, he was a professor of surgery, public health, family and community medicine at the UA and chairman of the State of Arizona Southern Regional Emergency Medical System.

    Carmona now teaches at the College of Public Health.

    “”The welcoming back from the community has been great,”” Carmona said. “”I’m excited to be back teaching at the university.””

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