Douglas was born in 1960 in South Africa where he spent 27 years. He trained at the University of Cape Town doing a Science Degree and then Medicine finishing in 1985 and then returned to Zululand to work for two more years before coming to the UK in 1987.
In 1995 he was asked to write a review of trauma management for developing countries by Mike Dobson for a WHO paper. The following year he had the fortune to meet Haydn Perndt, the then Educational Chairman of the WFSA who asked if he would run a pilot course with Marcus Skinner in Fiji in the South Pacific. Marcus Skinner, the co-author of the PTC manual and Douglas ran the first PTC course in Suva, Fiji in 1997.
After the first few courses in Africa and the South Pacific, it soon became apparent that if the Primary Trauma Care programme was to expand, the course, instructor programmes and the educational materials needed to be standardised under an organisation which addressed the specific trauma needs of developing countries.
Douglas founded the Primary Trauma Care Foundation (PTC), whose Head Office was in his home in Oxford, UK.
This organisation grew slowly and expanded as the number of courses and countries expanded. Instructor courses in Oxford were started and standardised and then started abroad in order to cater for the increase in number of instructors. This also led on to the development of the Primary Trauma Care Instructor Manual and improvement of educational material slides etc.
The World Federation of Societies of Anaesthesiologists (WFSA) were pivotal in the early development of the Primary Trauma Care Foundation and the close collaboration and generosity of the educational chairman of the WFSA enabled Primary Trauma Care to expand and fly instructors to remote areas of the world in order to conduct courses.
The Primary Trauma Care manual became a WHO publication in 2003 and this with the excellent educational instructor manual enabled PTC courses to expand throughout many continents.
The introduction of Roy Fenner enabled the Primary Trauma Care Foundation to become more structurally sound, with the introduction of a Board of Trustees as the organisation became a Registered UK Charity.
Douglas was the Founder Chairman of the Board of Trustees. He was also Chairman of the Working Committee of PTC within the WFSA and through the teamwork of many individuals PTC expanded. The PTC Family has expanded, but in addition to those mentioned above, the tremendous work of, to name a few; James de Courcy, Rob Mc Dougall, Stephen Swallow, Frank Walters, Stuart Benham, Paul Borgdorff, Matthew Roberts, Diane Wilkinson and Shirley Dobson.
By 2010 the PTC manual had been translated into 14 languages and was freely available on the Internet. The work of early PTC Administrators including Trish Greenall and more recently Annette Clack enabled PTC to put out regular newsletters as well as reports for the WFSA and other donors. Through the work of Douglas, Memorandums of Understanding were signed with the Ministry of Health in several countries including Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Paraguay, China and organisations such as MSF and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
This close collaboration with the Primary Trauma Care Foundation and international health organisations enable PTC to fast develop into a worldwide trauma course.
Arguably perhaps Douglas’s greatest achievement was working for eight years establishing Primary Trauma Care in China. In 2002 with the good work of Stephen Swallow and T W Lee and Douglas’s work in the WHO, the PTC Foundation was able to run four pilot studies in China which sowed the seed for on going work with the Ministry of Health and the Kadoorie Foundation to ultimately procure funding and a MOU with the Ministry of Health in Beijing to run a three year pilot study in China starting 2010.
As this work expanded Douglas continued to work without any remuneration, to expand PTC into a global Trauma network. He also continued as a full time Consultant Anaesthetist in Intensive Care in Oxford, working as a Royal Naval Reserve Surgeon Commander and being a husband and father to three children.
From its beginning Douglas wanted to establish PTC as a world-class trauma management structure training doctors and nurses in the management of severe trauma in less affluent countries. His passion, learned from South African apartheid times, was to shape the ethos of PTC worldwide.
- Teaching a simple straightforward message of saving lives.
- Providing material and means to a country at minimal cost to allow that country to take the material and adapt it to their own needs.
- Empowering the countries own medical faculties to have dignity and motivation, as well as pride in their own achievements, to enable them to train their own staff in trauma management.
- Motivate countries to have a fresh vision of trauma prevention and management and not be beholden to other countries financially or for the use of non-specific trauma course materials.
It became apparent by 2010 that the work of the Primary Trauma Care Foundation was so large that it was not possible to continue with a small-centralised office of Douglas, Roy Fenner and the Administrator Annette Clack. After a meeting with the Board of Trustees in 2010, a CEO and a new management structure were agreed, which would put the Primary Trauma Care Foundation in a good position to address the challenging needs of the future.
Douglas continues as the Founder of PTC within the Primary Trauma Care Foundation organisation. His singular drive to create a trauma system for developing countries free from external pressure, prejudice and ownership has enabled Primary Trauma Care to be established in about 70 countries around the world. He remains tremendously proud of this achievement and wishes Primary Trauma Care and all the people involved in it the very best for the future.