I first had the pleasure of meeting Don when we introduced ATLS® to the west coast in 1981. I was a community surgeon interested in the task of improving the early care of the trauma patient. Don, at that time was already an experienced trauma surgeon on his way to becoming an icon in trauma and American surgery. He accepted the ATLS® approach with his full commitment without any undue criticism as many of his peers did initially.
My interactions with Don became quite frequent when he became chair of the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma (COT). We became well acquainted at the various meetings we attended together during his tenure as the COT chair. He never lost his enthusiasm for teaching all who participated in the care of the trauma patient. We came to learn that our childhoods and values were very similar having been raised in rural America not being stymied by hard work to reach our goals.
The unselfish dedication and commitment of his professional career to the improvement in the care of the injured patient; his clairvoyant incorporation of the concepts of preventable death methods and evidence-based practice in support of trauma systems: his initial investigations of cellular response to injury; his élan as an educator, role model and friend to countless surgical trainees; his unpretentious personality; and his exemplary compassion in the care of the injured patient will always remain as standard for the trauma surgeon.
I am proud to have known him for over 30 years.
Paul “Skip” Collicott