The first Wilderness EMS Medical Director training endorsed by both the National Association of EMS Physicians® and the
Wilderness Medical Society™. The premier training program for healthcare providers involved in Wilderness EMS medical
direction and oversight.
As interest in outdoor sports grows, so do expectations for rescue services and the volume of EMS calls in wilderness (also known as austere or resource-deficient) areas. However, until now there has been no professional society-recognized training for physicians to provide this type of EMS oversight. Many physicians have extensive EMS training, but little wilderness medical experience. Similarly, many physicians have deep wilderness or wilderness medical training, but little exposure to the EMS operational environment or EMS oversight. To address this issue, the Wilderness EMS Medical Director Course was developed to support physicians and other healthcare providers tasked with providing medical oversight to EMS systems operating in a variety of wilderness environments. The Wilderness EMS Medical Director course operates under the dual support of the National Association of EMS Physicians® and the Wilderness Medical Society™. This course will particularly appeal to physicians responsible for medical oversight of search and rescue teams, technical rescue teams, ski patrols, disaster teams, and EMS systems responding to remote or wilderness areas. However, a central tenet of the Course is that all operational areas may have characteristics of austere medical care at some time, and that medical directors need to be as flexible as field caregivers in addressing those situations.
The course was designed by Michael Millin (immediate past medical director of the National Ski Patrol and Johns Hopkins University professor), Seth Collings Hawkins (medical director of Linville Gorge–the deepest gorge in the eastern USA–and course director of the Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship), and Will Smith (medical director of Grand Teton National Park, Teton County Search & Rescue, and National Park Service-SE AZ Group). The underlying curriculum was originally developed by Millin using Delphi methodology for scientific rigor.
Importantly, each of the founders is a member of both the National Association of EMS Physicians® and the Wilderness Medical Society™. Both the professional organizations agreed to support the Course. As the first joint NAEMSP-WMS project, the Course thus represents an important historical installment in the development of Wilderness EMS as a medical subspecialty.
The WEMS Medical Director Course was first delivered in pilot form as a concurrent program at the Wilderness Medical Society™ Desert Medicine meeting (Tucson, AZ) in November of 2011 to rave reviews. As a result of this rollout program, the Journal of EMS named the Course one of the “Top 10 EMS Innovations of 2011.”
Given the success of the pilot program, the Wilderness EMS Medical Director Course was incorporated as a non-profit organization in December of 2012. The first Course after incorporation was offered as a preconference program at the National Association of EMS Physicians® Annual Conference (Bonita Springs FL) in January of 2013. Subsequent courses are planned annually usually at NAEMSP and WMS meetings.
Michael Millin, MD MPH FACEP
Seth C. Hawkins, MD FACEP FAWM
Will Smith, MD Paramedic
Benjamin Abo, DO EMT-P FAWM