Dr. Thomas Blackwell brings diverse experience to the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville as a physician, educator, entrepreneur, and expert in disaster medicine. Prior to joining our faculty, Dr. Blackwell was an attending physician in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte, NC. He served as a clinical professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of North Carolina (UNC)-Chapel Hill, and also on the faculty of UNC-Charlotte in the Department of Public Health Sciences and Center for Homeland Security and Major Disasters.
During his 18 years in Charlotte, Dr. Blackwell served as medical director for the Mecklenburg EMS Agency, the Charlotte Fire Department, 14 volunteer fire and rescue organizations, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department SWAT Team and Aviation Unit, the Charlotte Offices of the FBI and Secret Service, the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, and Carowinds amusement park. He also served as medical director for Bank of America Stadium, the Charlotte Motor Speedway, the Wachovia/Wells Fargo PGA Championship, and the Convention Center.
Dr. Blackwell is a visionary in disaster and terrorism preparedness and response medicine, a niche specialty he created in the 1980s. His focus earned him the nickname of “Chicken Little,” but his work proved prescient in the wake of the 9/11 terrorism attacks.
While at Carolinas Medical Center, he founded the Center for Pre-hospital Medicine, which incorporated the United State’s first hospital-based EMT and paramedic training program. The Center expanded to include translational pre-hospital research activities and disaster preparedness initiatives for the healthcare system and the Charlotte metropolitan community. With the assistance of local police and fire chiefs, sheriff, EMS director, and public health director, Dr. Blackwell created and administered some $6 million in federal grants for the Advanced Local Emergency Response Team (ALERT) in 1998. This team served as a model for the U.S. government for local counterterrorism response resources and partnerships. Post 9/11, two Homeland Security Secretaries, Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff, visited Charlotte to study the ALERT system.
Combining his background in disaster preparedness with entrepreneurship, Dr. Blackwell invented the world’s first comprehensive mobile hospital and now serves as CEO of MED-1, which manufactures mobile hospitals. MED-1 mobile hospitals were initially deployed with the North Carolina State Medical Assistance Team to the Gulf Coast of Mississippi following Hurricane Katrina. They are now being used in developing countries to improve access to healthcare.
Dr. Blackwell taught UNC medical students and residents in Emergency Medicine at Carolinas Medical and created one of the largest post-graduate EMS Fellowship programs in the United States that provided post-doctoral pre-hospital training for 18 candidates under his direction. He has served as a visiting professor at multiple universities and medical centers and has published numerous articles relating to his interests in EMS performance and response, and disaster medicine. He has won many awards for his research and commitment to Emergency Medicine.