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Safety Studiously

His name is synonymous with injury prevention. A champion without rings or trophies, Dr. Ron Ailsby’s rewards have come, not in the form of banners and medals, but from witnessing to the results of his work. His tireless efforts have led directly to a reduction in the numbers of those in his community who are injured or killed by preventable injury. This is his story.

After graduating high school at the age of 16 and obtaining his doctorate of Medicine from the University of Saskatchewan at 24, Ron went on to earn a fellowship at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in Orthopedics prior to his turning 30.

While in Saskatoon, during his orthopedics training, Dr. Ailsby worked as an emergency room doctor every third night at the University Hospital. This was during this time when there were a tremendous number of accidents related to mining developments in the area, a plethora of car accidents, and a glut of farming accidents.

One of those farming accidents resulted in the severe disability of a close family member. “Those accidents at the time were hard to witness but when one is seeing them daily, they just become part of what you do when you’re a trauma surgeon”, said Dr. Ailsby, during his address at the Council’s 2017 Annual General Meeting.

Due to his interest in emergency department work, Ron was approached by the Professor of Surgery at the U of S to become a consultant to the Engineering Department. Together, they performed research into car accidents and injuries for the Department of Transport.

It was only after a 3-day visit to a General Motors factory in Michigan, where cars were being crashed and studies done on ways to prevent injuries (prior to the common use of seatbelts), that it really dawned on Dr. Ailsby that injuries could be prevented.

Coincidentally, very soon after his return from Flint, MI., Dr. Ailsby lost a very close friend to a vehicle rollover, only a half-mile from his farm house. His friend succumbed to injuries obtained from being partially thrown out of the vehicle he was driving.

Shortly thereafter, Dr. Ailsby, along with the Professor of Surgery at the University, endeavoured to study how emergency care was being delivered in the province. “We needed to do studies, we needed to do it the right way (by understanding) how many people were dying in ambulances, how many from farm accidents, industrial accidents and so on” he commented.

Part of Dr. Ailsby’s fellowship was to work in Los Angeles with a group of paramedics, in doing so, he formulated a plan to improve the ambulance care in Regina and surrounding district. A plan which he then presented to the Safety Council… the rest as they say, is history..

With the backing of the Safety Council and the Medical Association, Dr. Ailsby led an ambulance improvement program, followed by working on programs which resulted in the introduction of seatbelt laws in our province. He also helped lead the organization in activities such as Operation Life Saver and the Seniors Falls Prevention Program.

Professionally, Dr. Ailsby served as a Clinical Associate Professor at the College of Medicine for the University of Saskatchewan, he was President of the Saskatchewan Academy of Sports Medicine, Commanding Officer of 16 Medical Company, Primary Reserve of the Canadian Armed Forces where he was an honorary Lt. Col., and is a recipient of the Seymour Prize in Social and Preventive Medicine.

Dr. Ailsby joined the Saskatchewan Safety Council Board of Directors, as a representative of the Saskatchewan Medical Association, in 1977. He’s been on the Board ever since serving all positions, including President from 1982 to 1983.

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