Born in Derby and educated at the Rydal School, Edgar Pask won a scholarship to Downing College, Cambridge. There he obtained first class honours and a scholarship to the London Hospital, later becoming House Surgeon at Oxford until war broke out.
During the Second World War, he joined an experimental RAF team in Farnborough, where he allowed himself to be used as a guinea pig. To test lifejackets for the Royal Air Force, he was anaesthetised and thrown into deep water to investigate whether he rotated until his head was above the surface. The design of jacket examined is still in use.
Pask also helped to establish, through oxygen deprivation, that the greatest height for survival in a parachute jump is 30,000 feet. He designed a suit to protect against cold in the sea, and tested it himself by parachuting into the water.
After the war Pask became Reader in Anaesthetics at the University of Durham and was soon promoted to professor. He was awarded the OBE in 1944 and the John Snow Medal in 1946, and gave the Joseph Clover lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons.