Dr Ken Easton founded BASICS in 1977, this short biography provided by Dr Ken Hines (past Honorary Treasurer of BASICS), details his remarkable life and some of his achievements.
Dr Kenneth Easton was the acknowledged father of pre-hospital care in the United Kingdom and indeed in many other parts of the Commonwealth. His tireless campaign to improve the lot of accident victims led both to the foundation of the British Association for Immediate Care and to the formation of Accident and Emergency Medicine as a specialty in its own right.
Born in April 1924, Kenneth Easton trained in Medicine at the Westminster Hospital, London, and was one of a team of senior students sent to the Belsen Concentration Camp soon after its liberation. His experience there remained with him forever and greatly influenced his compassion for those who were suffering and strengthened his own personal faith and belief in the philosophy of “Love thy neighbour as thyself”.
Immediately after the war Dr Easton served as an RAF Medical Officer and quickly became aware of the carnage on the roads on the notorious stretch of the A1 passing his base at Catterick. He gained permission from his Commanding Officer to attend road accidents outside the base and joined forces with a local garage mechanic, the local police and ambulance crews to become a key member of the emergency response team. When Dr Easton left the RAF he remained in the area as a General Practitioner in Catterick. He was appalled by the primitive care offered to casualties at serious accidents and began a lifelong battle to persuade those in authority to improve training, equipment and facilities. By the mid 1960’s Dr Easton was campaigning tirelessly to improve the standards and provision of pre-hospital emergency care, lecturing up and down the country, lobbying in parliament and getting people from the BMA and the Royal Colleges to listen to his pleas for a better service.
Dr Easton launched his own local immediate care scheme, the Road Accident After Care Scheme (RAACS) in 1967, one of the first medical teams to provide a 24-hour emergency service to casualties at the roadside. By this time Dr Easton had established very close links with all the emergency services and RAACS developed as an integral part of the emergency response. Dr Easton represented his scheme on the Medical Commission on Accident Prevention (MCAP) which was the forum from which Immediate Care and BASICS (The British Association for Immediate Care) emerged independently in 1977.
In 1969 Dr Easton organised the first international symposium on Immediate Care at the Scotch Corner Hotel in North Yorkshire. The response was overwhelming and there was a huge attendance.
In 1970 he was invested as an Officer Brother of the Order of St John, an honour he greatly valued. In 1974 he was awarded an OBE by the Queen for services to immediate care.
He was a founder director of the Trauma Foundation and elected a fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners in 1975. He was also a Freeman of the City of London.
Kenneth Easton became the first Chairman of BASICS following its inaugural meeting in 1977 and served as Chairman for five years. He was subsequently elected an honorary life member. During his term of office he campaigned for government funding and met regularly with the All Party Disablement Group in Parliament, eventually winning some Department of Health funding for BASICS as a pump priming grant. He also launched the Friends of BASICS as a very successful fund raising group to help raise the cash essential to run and develop BASICS.
Dr Easton was instrumental in setting up the Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, AEMT, and was its first president. Always a great encourager and enthuser, nothing was too much trouble. He travelled all around the country and even much of the rest of the world promoting the concepts of pre hospital care. He was highly regarded especially in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia. He became a close friend of the late Asmund Laerdal of the Laerdal Foundation in Norway. Dr Easton corresponded with like-minded colleagues all over the world and had the rare and invaluable gift to spur people on to achieve their goals.
As a local family doctor living and working in the same village for most of his medical career he was highly respected and held with great affection and high esteem by patients and colleagues alike. After his retirement he and his wife continued to make Catterick Village their home.
After his retirement Dr Easton continued to support other local charities including a charity for MS sufferers. He maintained close links with his parish church and was an active bell ringer. As chronic ill health closed in Ken was strengthened by his Christian faith. He knew he was going to a place that was “far better”.
Dr Easton’s whole ethos was based on the principle of the Good Samaritan, he would never turn away from an individual in need.