The Life of Surgeon Rear-Admiral Frank Golden
On 5th January 2014, Surgeon Rear Admiral Frank Golden died aged 77. He received multiple awards, including an OBE but more than anything Frank Golden will be remembered for his contribution to lifesaving at sea. Every day the prospect of surviving immersion is improved because of Frank Golden. Frank Golden married Jennifer Beard in 1964. She survives him with their daughter and two sons, one of whom is also a naval officer.
“Frank Golden was a giant of a man in every sense; he will be missed by all who knew him. Many who never knew him will survive because of his outstanding work.” – Professor Mike Tipton, expert in hypothermia and colleague
Francis Golden was born in Cork City on the 5th June 1936. He studied medicine at University College Cork, graduating in 1960. Frank then went to London and spent 18 months training to be a GP. Following some advice from his bank manager, he joined the Royal Navy as a Surgeon Lieutenant. Golden was often on duty to treat casualties at sea. It was the helplessness of not knowing how to prevent circum-rescue deaths that ignited his interest in physiology.
“I was flown out to provide immediate medical care to members of the salvage team who were injured following an explosion. It quickly became apparent that the casualties did not exactly conform to the information in the medical textbooks.” – Frank Golden
In a subsequent appointment to the RN Air Medical School in Hampshire, he discovered, beneath the floorboards, a refrigerated pool that had been used after WWII to test aircrew immersion suits. So began a scientific career that lasted 40 years. Golden was very phobic about water, this drove him to become interested in immersion related death. His research revealed that in the Second World War more than two-thirds of all naval fatalities escaped their sinking ships only to die subsequently from the effects of cold water immersion. Like Edgar Pask before him, Golden used himself as a guinea pig. This led to improved techniques for the rescue and treatment of the victims of cold water immersion and improved understanding of how the body reacts to extreme cold. He came to be recognised as a worldwide authority on sea survival and was invited to guest lecture in multiple countries. He retired from the Navy in 1993 and joined Portsmouth University where he continued on his research. He co-wrote Essentials of Sea Survival with Professor Mike Tipton in 2002.