SALISBURY’S ‘Flying Doctor’ who “touched the lives of many” has died aged 79.

Dr John Alastair Lack, who died on March 11, will be remembered for his contribution to the medical and anaesthesia community, as well as his varied interests and “always having a project on the go”.

Born in 1942, Dr Lack had an extensive background in his line of work, firstly as a professor in California before returning to Salisbury as a consultant anaesthetist.

He worked at Salisbury District Hospital for around 30 years, 1974 until 2003, and soon became the flying doctor when he started travelling to A&E calls himself.

Salisbury Journal: Dr John Alastair Lack from 1985 - Salisbury Flying DoctorDr John Alastair Lack from 1985 - Salisbury Flying Doctor

As a consultant-in-charge of the A&E department between 1976 and 1982, before the introduction of paramedics, he realised that some casualties arrived by ambulance too late to be saved. Determined to improve their chances, he travelled to accidents himself, stabilising or even resuscitating patients before their journey to hospital.

Alongside this, Dr Lack designed operating theatre systems, including the Lack Circuit – an invention administering anaesthetic gases efficiently – wrote computer programmes to improve anaesthesia training, and even took part in hospital pantomimes.

His work has featured in several books and papers, and he was the recipient of various awards and accolades, including the Extraordinary Contribution to Innovation in Anaesthesia in 2005.

Elected to the council of the royal college of anaesthetists, he chaired the professional standards committee and was awarded a DHS Commendation and Plain English Crystal Mark for ‘Raising the Standard: Information for Patients’ in 2003.

Outside of the hospital, Dr Lack, in his home of Coombe Bissett, was chairman of the parish plan group, village webmaster, bellringer and chairman of the history and garden societies.

Salisbury Journal: Dr John Alistair LackDr John Alistair Lack

He was husband to Maggie, father-of-three to Juliette, Kate and Christopher, and had 10 grandchildren in total.

Daughter Juliette said her father “liked to be kept busy and always had a project on the go”, with interests including history, architecture, Scottish dancing, beekeeping, golf, family history, writing books, bell ringing and fixing.

In his retirement, Dr Lack was writing and lecturing on medieval and reformation history, in particular Salisbury Cathedral, and was an elected governor of Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust.

Juliette added: “Dad was passionate about sharing knowledge and always willing to pause what he was doing to listen to you and to help solve a problem.

“He had an extraordinary capacity for standing up for those in need. He was determined to make things happen and always followed through to the end. He’s touched the lives of many through his interests and kindness and his loss will be widely felt.”

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