Meet the Members

One of the greatest assets of the WMS is the diversity of its members and the stories they have to tell. This column presents an opportunity to highlight the incredible things our members are doing, whether they're a phsyician, PA, nurse, paramedic, EMT, ski patroller, or simply an outdoor enthusiast wanting to be prepared for emergencies.

Wyatt Downey

Date shared: July 31st, 2023

If you've noticed more social media posts focusing on content from the Wilderness & Environmental Medicine journal recently, we have an exciting reason behind it. Meet Wyatt Downey, a new WMS member who has taken on the volunteer role of WEM social media generator! As part of #MemberMonday, we're thrilled to introduce you to Wyatt, who has been working passionately to bring engaging content to our online platforms. Join us in expressing our gratitude to Wyatt for his valuable contributions!


Eric Olsen

Date shared: July 3rd, 2023

Did you know the WMS has members on every single continent? #MemberMonday is back, and today we're introducing you to Eric Olsen, who is practicing wilderness medicine at the bottom of the world!


Kyle Carr

Date shared: May 8th, 2023

It's #MemberMonday, and we're excited to share this article from Uniformed Services University on WMS Member Kyle Carr, an EMT, bike patroller, wildland firefighter, competitive downhill mountain biker, and multilinguist, who "likes to balance risk with positive impact and service." He has such an impressive resume already, and we can't wait to see what he accomplishes in the future. Thanks for bringing us along for the journey, Kyle!


Marlena Strandir

Date shared: April 3rd, 2023

It's #MemberMonday, and today we're sharing an interview by Musa Masala with WMS member and family medicine doctor Marlena Strandir, who joined the WSMH trek last fall along with her husband. Marlena is from Dillingham, Alaska, and stayed on after the trek to help out as the first physician from the U.S. to consult at the hospital.


Yulia Brockdorf

Date Shared: June 27, 2022

As the conflict in Ukraine continues, we're grateful for the numerous individuals and organizations providing care, supplies, and so many other needed types of support where it is needed most. WMS member Yulia Brockdorf recently shared about her upcoming travel to deliver medical and tactical supplies to Ukraine; read more about her plans and learn how you can contribute in her original post, below.




Freston Marc Sirur

Date Shared: June 13, 2022

Although it's actually Tuesday where this member is from, it's time for another #MemberMonday post, and this time we're featuring Freston Marc Sirur from India!

"I grew up in Kuwait, a time and place I hold close to my heart. From a very young age beyond my memory, I’ve been told that I had a strong affinity towards animals and the natural world. Growing up I’d visit my place of origin (the South-West coast of India) every monsoon, which coincides with the summer holidays of the middle east. Goa is a small state but with a strong and vibrant Portuguese culture. With evergreen forests, mangroves and widespread wetlands that support paddy cultivation, its beauty knows no bounds. I spent hours and days simply walking through forests, wetlands and beautiful beaches. Exploring and observing the natural wonders it abounds. In Kuwait or in Goa fishing of any kind, outdoor cooking and exploratory family trips were common place. Throughout my childhood pets like birds, fish, cats, dogs and turtles found a home with us. If not for medicine and a healing hand, I wasn’t far from becoming a vet.




Ste'Von Voice

Date Shared: March 28, 2022

Last week, we introduced you to Ste'Von Voice, a family medicine resident who recently move from Texas to Alaska. Here's the full #MemberMonday spotlight!

"During undergrad I was working in music entertainment as a singer/dancer in Corpus Christi, Texas. Latin DJs El Dusty and Principe Q (Selena Quintanilla’s nephew) were my producers and introduced me to many opportunities in the industry. I performed at music festivals such as South by Southwest (SXSW), weddings, quinceañeras, etc. I even worked for local radio stations as a soundboard operator part-time.




Patty Zishka

Date Shared: February 15, 2022

You might have read recently about the first Black climbing team attempting to summit Everest. WMS Life Member Patty Zishka reached out to share that one of members of the team, James “KG” Kagambi, is a friend of hers. She shared that KG "led our climb up Kilimanjaro several years ago. He is an accomplished mountaineer... He is an amazing man and a humble soul."

Learn more about their expedition here.




Neal Pollock

Date Shared: February 4, 2022

Neal W. Pollock, PhD, editor-in-chief (EIC) of Wilderness & Environmental Medicine (WEM), has announced that he will be stepping down from the position this summer.

The WMS is extremely grateful for Neal’s 23 years of dedication to WEM. He started as a peer reviewer for WEM in 1999; joined the journal’s editorial board in 2005; became a section editor in 2010; an associate editor in 2014; and EIC in 2016. As EIC, Neal has been steadfast in his commitment to improving the quality of published articles, and the journal has made great strides in many areas, including the development of the reviewer-in-training program; the steady rise of the impact factor; and growth in submissions and page count. From everyone at the WMS, thank you, Neal!




Justin Hensley

Date Shared: January 31, 2022

From Tennessee to Texas and Mozambique to Australia, check out Justin Hensley's wilderness medicine journey on this #MemberMonday:

"I’m currently an emergency medical doctor. My path to wilderness medicine started while I was in medical school at East Tennessee State University. Since we were a rural campus, I spent a lot more time outdoors than I had growing up. Hiking the Tennessee and North Carolina mountains, white water rafting, snowboarding, you name it. After residency, I moved to Texas and continued experiencing the outdoors. I started going to wilderness conferences and realized rather quickly that the level of science at WMS meetings was far above many of the other groups and felt that joining WMS would be best for my own education




Cris Benner

Date Shared: January 18, 2022

At the end of 2021, Colorado faced one of the most devastating wildfires in its history. Many of our members live in the area, so we checked in on them and heard from several just how grateful they were that the winds died down and that their homes were not damaged. The picture below is from WMS member Bob Richards who could see the flames from outside his home.

Unfortunately, one WMS member was not so lucky and his house was one of the 1,000 that were destroyed.




Dr. Gacioch

Date Shared: December 23, 2021

We love getting emails like this! When we asked Dr. Gacioch if we could share anonymously, he replied, "You don't need to block my name. I am proud to be associated w/ the WMS."

We are so grateful for the support of Dr. Gacioch (a member since 2011) and our nearly 4,500 other members across the world.

If you aren't already a part of our community, consider gifting an annual membership to yourself or someone else this holiday season and find out first-hand all there is to love about the WMS!




Scott Dreblow

Date Shared: December 20, 2021

It’s time for our last #MemberMonday of 2021! Up next, we have Scott Dreblow, who like many of our WMS members, his interest in wilderness medicine has brought him all over the world. As we look at the year ahead, his story reminds us all to say yes to adventure!

“I retired some five years ago as a PA-C in emergency medicine and rural primary-care in SW Montana. After retiring, I served as a volunteer medical provider in five medical brigades to indigenous villages in the Andes of northern Ecuador organized by the Tandana Foundation (TF). TF provides free or minimal-cost medical and dental care at portable medical clinics staffed by medical provider and non-licensed support volunteers ( Between medical brigades, local TF staff in Ecuador coordinate follow up services for patients to get care within the government health system.




Shilpi Ganguly

Date Shared: November 29, 2021

Shilpi Ganguly has been to over 69 countries and has climbed three of the seven summits, and she’s just 27 years old. Prior to medical school, she earned a double degree in biomedical engineering and Spanish, with a minor in aerospace engineering, and then went on to get a master’s degree in modern human anatomy. Like many WMS members, she wanted to create a career that felt more like a passion than work. For her, that meant combining her love for space and her desire to care for others. While pursuing her master’s at the University of Colorado, Shilpi began pursuing her career in this ultimate extreme environment while working with BioServe Space Technologies.




Robyn Johnston

Date Shared: September 27, 2021

It's #MemberMonday, and we are pleased to introduce you to Robyn Johnston, MB, BCh, BAO! Find out how she has combined her profession with her passion in life and the many adventures that have led her to her current home in Kenya:

"I used to tell people I had taken the scenic route to get to medicine, but I think now I would have to add that I’ve also taken the scenic route throughout my medical career.

Growing up in South Africa, New Zealand, and then northern British Columbia, mine was a childhood spent camping, hiking and canoeing. After an undergraduate degree in New York state I headed back to South Africa where I studied exercise science and worked as a river guide on the South Africa - Namibia border.




Elaine Yu


Date Shared: August 30, 2021

Elaine "Lainey" Yu is a senior emergency medicine resident at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. Her interest in wilderness medicine started after witnessing several accidents as an outdoor guide and wanting to help without knowing how. She started her FAWM as a student and completed it in 2019. Lainey led a Wilderness Mini-Fellowship and journal club in residency and serves as the director of the medical student wilderness course. On her days off, she can be found climbing in the Gunks or snowboarding wherever there's fresh powder. She's passionate about wilderness medical education and introducing people to the outdoors. 




Jory Zimmerman


Date Shared: August 23, 2021

Prior to becoming an acute care nurse practitioner, Jory Zimmerman was a chef, a jeweler, and an EMT. Despite the wide variety of careers, he has always been passionate about the outdoors. He first gained experiences backpacking, climbing, rafting, and kayaking during summer programs in his youth, and in college he decided that he would do a semester abroad with NOLS. Instead of going to classes and taking a train around Europe, he spent the best 86 days of his life in western Australia “dodging crocodiles, kayaking down the Drysdale River, and hanging out with the Aboriginals on the sacred Sunday Island.” Jory says this was truly one of the most influential and life-changing experiences of his life.




Lynne Hoole


Date Shared: August 16, 2021

Congratulations to Lynne Hoole, the first woman from Africa to earn her Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM)! We wanted to learn a little bit more about this incredible woman and quickly discovered her path is like none other. Here’s what she shared for this #MemberMonday: So many of the qualifications I hold and the training that I’ve received have been the result of being in the right place at the right time and the inability to say “no” even when I was absolutely terrified of what I had gotten into… 




Laura McGladrey

Date Shared: June 29, 2021

Congrats to WMS member and long-time conference presenter Laura McGladrey for being selected as this year's Reb Gregg WIlderness Risk Management Award winner by the Wilderness Risk Management Conference!

From NOLS:

Laura McGladrey is a nurse practitioner, academic, and clinician specializing in occupational stress in first responders and outdoor leaders. She is a thought leader in our industry and has been a leading voice in the national discussion on stress injury formation and recovery for a decade now.




Matt Welder

Date Shared: June 15, 2021

The WMS 2021 Summer Conference is less than two weeks away and we have one final speaker spotlight to share. Matthew D. Welder is one of just three WMS members who have earned all three of our certifications: the Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM), the Diploma in Diving & Marine Medicine (DiDMM), and Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM). He is a board-certified anesthesia provider and retired Army combat veteran who recently took over as Special Assistant to the President for Operational Readiness at Uniformed Services University (USU) of the Health Sciences.




Ryan Christensen

Date Shared: May 31, 2021

Here's Speaker Spotlight #2 for the 2021 WMS Virtual Summer Conference - Ryan Christensen, NRP, FAWM, DiMM:

"I was a pretty small kid growing up. At age 6, I won a “Big Wheel 500 race,” mainly because I could peddle the thing fast and I was light (I still have the trophy for some reason - see last photo). I remember during 9th grade wrestling, I had to weigh in with a backpack full of books to make the minimum weight requirement of 87 pounds. If I was told I was too small to do something, it only fueled me to work harder…and I wanted to do the hardest things.”




Sarah Spelsberg

Date Shared: May 19, 2021

We're kicking off the return or our speaker spotlight series with the incredible Sarah Spelsberg, PA-C, FAWM, FEWM. Sarah is an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Mayo Clinic and serves as faculty for WMS, WEM and FAPA (Florida Academy of Physician Assistants). She has coauthored book chapters, several research papers, and is the author of the blog Sarah was the winner of our 14ers speaker competition at the last WMS summer conference and will be presenting "Wilderness Sports Injuries and Their Radiographic Findings" at the upcoming virtual conference.




Tod Schimelpfenig

Date Shared: May 12, 2021

Tod has been a member of the WMS since 1984. We are grateful for his innumerable contributions to the field of wilderness medicine and wish him all the best in retirement!




Leslie & Sierra Casper

Date Shared: May 11, 2021

Like mother, like daughter!

Leslie & Sierra Casper captivated our attention after introducing themselves during the WMS Virtual Winter Conference. They both are incredibly accomplished on their own, and it was not their first wilderness medicine training to partake in together – they endeavored on a multi-state road trip back in 2019 to see Yellowstone covered in snow and participate in a NOLS course, earning their Wilderness EMT (WEMT) and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certifications.

Sierra said, “I had not realized there was a whole realm of medicine where I could involve my love of the outdoors with my love of helping people and being a first responder. As a pre-med student, I had been put-off by the idea of working in an office constantly. However, my discovery of wilderness and environmental medicine gave me newfound inspiration to apply to med school and combine my passions.”




Laura Phillips & Josh Rudner

Date Shared: April 12, 2021

Ain't nothing stopping these students from experiencing BreckWild! HUGE thanks to course directors Joshua Rudner and Lara Phillips for the countless hours they spent working to make this wilderness and environmental medicine student elective happen, especially with the additional efforts required this year to keep everyone safe and healthy. Josh & Lara not only spend all year planning and take off nearly an entire month to be there with and teach the students, but this year they offered to lead the elective without any form of reimbursement in order to make sure the elective was financially feasible. We are so grateful for the sacrifices they have made and the dedication to wilderness medicine education that they display year after year.




Dan Hoetger

Date Shared: April 9, 2021

Congrats to Dan Hoetger, winner of our conference registration contest! He came in as the 21st registrant and will be winning $250. When we informed him of the prize, he shared that he was actually going to reinvest it right back into wilderness medicine education by applying for his Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM).

Here's a little more about Dan:

"While my day job is in technology, I'm also an EMT and Wilderness EMT serving as Coordinator for the Pasadena Fire Department EMS Reserve, a 40-person volunteer urban EMS unit providing a second set of hands in the back of rescue ambulances, boots on the ground at large city events like the Rose Bowl Game, and most recently, COVID vaccine administration.




Ronald Turco

Date Shared: April 5, 2021

It's not often that we speak with WMS members in their 80's but we chatted with one last week and thought you might like to get to know him (and his adorable dog) on this #MemberMonday.
Ronald Turco, MD, describes himself as spry and active. He grew up in a large east coast city surrounded by concrete and says his idea of outdoor life was playing stickball with broomsticks on a roadway. His family moved to Oregon in 1968, which is where he first developed a love for the outdoors: "One of the first invitations we received was to spend a night outdoors in a state park. Our new friends said we needed sleeping bags. Up to this time I thought sleeping bags were for dead bodies. I bought a tent instead. Eventually we took up hiking as a family and thought we were like Robinson Crusoe.




What's Your Wilderness? Video Competition


Date Shared: March 8, 2021

We received many outstanding submissions for our "What's Your Wilderness?" video competition, but only one winner walked away with the $500 grand prize. Congrats to Mia Derstine for receiving the most votes during the 2021 Winter Conference on her video, "Get Outside," featuring an original song performed by her.




Scott & Nicole Clark

Date Shared: February 23, 2021

We missed #MemberMonday by a day but didn't want to wait any longer to share this fascinating feature on two lifetime WMS members.

Scott and Nicole Clark met in the ICU in Tucson, Arizona, in 1997. Nicole, a Swiss citizen, had just graduated from nursing school and began working in the ICU. Scott, an anesthesiologist, was bringing a patient back for her care.

From their first time rock climbing together, to attempting higher peaks around the world, their shared passion for the outdoors has bonded them together for 19 years of marriage. They even completed their Diploma in Mountain Medicine together in 2019.




Chuck Huss

Date Shared: February 8, 2021

Long-time WMS member and new Expedition Committee member Chuck Huss is retired ER doc who worked in Alaska, Maine, and Antarctica before eventually settling in the US Midwest. In addition to his work in the ER, he helped start a wilderness medicine elective for fourth-year med students at the University of Iowa that has been going strong for 16 years. Chuck now works part time as a ship doctor for Quark Expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic and has organized private international trekking groups to mountain destinations for over two decades. While wearing these many hats, he also found time to complete his Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM) with the WMS in 2010!




Emily DesMeules

Date Shared: February 1, 2021

Emily DesMeules is on the WMS Expedition Medicine Committee and when we heard her story, we immediately thought it was worth sharing for #MemberMonday!

Emily is an Advanced Emergency Medical Technician (AEMT) and Registered Medical Assistant (RMA), currently splitting her year between working in wildland fire as a helirappeller for the US Forest Service in the summer and as a medical assistant at a family practice clinic in Idaho during the winter.




Tracy Cushing

Date Shared: January 19, 2021

Tracy Cushing, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado, has been a WMS member since she was a medical student at NYU. A love of the outdoors and high altitude physiology led her to being the inaugural fellow in the Massachusetts General Hospital wilderness medicine fellowship program, which she completed in 2009. She served the Himalayan Rescue Association as a fellow, and developed a lifelong love of mountains and high places.




Avi Patil

Date Shared: January 11, 2021

Our next WMS Virtual Winter Conference speaker spotlight is on Dr. Avinash Patil, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Stanford. He graduated from UC Davis studying physiology and economics. After a taking a few years off to work in the outdoor industry, he went to Washington University in St Louis for medical school, completed residency and a fellowship in global health at Loma Linda University.




Brandee Waite

Date Shared: December 17 2020

The WMS Virtual Winter Conference is about two months away, and we are excited to introduce you to some of our fantastic speakers. Up first, we have Dr. Brandee Waite. Read below to learn about her very unique path to wilderness medicine!

"When I was a child, I declined to sign up for the soccer team because there was too much running. As an adolescent, the only time I spent a complete night outdoors was when I camped out on the sidewalk in front of a record store, in line for tickets to a Summer Jam concert my senior year in high school. I am not an Emergency Medicine physician. I did not pee outside until I was 32 years old. Yet somehow, I’ve become a sports medicine doctor who has been on the medical team for 20 wilderness ultramarathon races. I’ve occasionally chosen an alternative path that has cultivated an unexpectedly colorful life tableau.




David Fifer

Date Shared: November 30, 2020

David Fifer is a 20-year veteran of EMS, and is currently an assistant professor in the School of Safety, Security, and Emergency Management at Eastern Kentucky University and the director of their paramedic degree program. Outside the classroom, he works PRN as a paramedic for Powell County EMS in Kentucky's Red River Gorge, and is the founding coordinator of their Red River Gorge Special Treatment, Access and Rescue (RedSTAR) team – the only wilderness ALS team in Kentucky. When school is not in session, he teaches occasional EMT courses at Landmark Learning in Cullowhee, NC, and at AWLS courses throughout the southeast United States.




Luke Husby

As a student at Texas A&M University, Luke Husby, DO, FAAEM, FACEP, FAWM, DTMH, found happiness in the outdoors, procrastinating schoolwork, and trying to make a few extra bucks as an EMT in his spare time. Backcountry hikes, hunting, and fishing with his roommates kickstarted his love of the wilderness. 

During medical school, Luke married his wife (who had her first backpacking trip with him along the Napali Coast, meeting a nudist colony at the end which was quite a surprise). “I believe we learned the value of adequate equipment when she lost all of her toenails to that hike. What a trooper!”




Jake Smith

The WMS isn't just for doctors! Although they make up a large portion of our membership, we have many non-physician members doing incredible things, and on this #MemberMonday we're excited to feature new member Jake Smith. Jake grew up running survival programs with his dad for the local school district and his passion for wilderness medicine truly ignited when he was on a backpacking trip at age 12 near the Grand Canyon. Check out his fascinating story:

"We were at Havasupi near Mooney Falls and a group of us were almost knocked off the path by a man running to get help. His girlfriend had fallen off the falls. We found her a little ways down the path and pulled her out of the water. I didn't know what to do. I sat in the mud and held her hand and wished I could do something for her. After what seemed like an eternity, a helicopter arrived and men jumped out, loaded her in the basket and whisked her away. Life goals were made that day."




Jason Muise


Today’s #MemberMonday post features Jason Muise, RN-BSN, an emergency nurse currently serving on a US Army Forward Resuscitation and Surgical Team in Tacoma, Washington. These teams provide emergency and surgical treatment in austere locations all around the world. Jason’s work has allowed him the unique opportunity to work (and play!) in over 30 countries, spanning six continents. He states that a strong foundation in wilderness medicine has opened the doors to experiences he never thought possible!

Jason’s path to wilderness medicine truly began as a young boy when, while involved in Boy Scouts, he had a strong interest in the first aid classes his troop received. Upon being assigned to his first field unit, he began to look at educational opportunities to better prepare himself for the environmental injuries and illnesses he might encounter. Hoping to integrate his passion for the outdoors with his career, Jason began seeking mentorship and found himself under the guidance of Dr. Ian Wedmore and the US Army Wilderness Medicine Fellowship. With Dr. Wedmore’s encouragement, Jason found himself in pursuit of Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine through the WMS and later received his Diploma in Mountain Medicine.




Linda and Larry Jones


It's #MemberMonday and we are a few days past Valentine’s Day, which Linda Laskowski Jones & Lawrence (Larry) J. Jones consider the anniversary of their first date (skiing). Although the couple actually met as crew members in the back of an ambulance while in school, they didn’t start dating until two years later. Seven years later, in 1988, they were married and went skiing once again, in Stowe, Vermont, for their honeymoon. 

Linda and Larry are both Fellows in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine, longtime members of the National Ski Patrol, and Advanced Wilderness Life Support (AWLS) instructors. Both have served on the Board of Directors for the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine and volunteer as faculty for the WMS student elective in Virginia. 




Rick Allen and Maria McGrane

Love is in the air with Valentine’s Day on Friday, so for this week’s #MemberMonday spotlight we’re featuring not just one member, but a husband and wife team. Rick Allen and Maria McGrane, MD, met on the internet dating website Fitness Singles, in 2007. Their first date was backcountry skiing in February 2008 and after getting married in British Columbia in 2011, they went sea kayaking on their honeymoon.

Maria is a retired doctor who initially specialized in emergency medicine and later switched to psychiatry, and Rick is a retired rancher. Maria feel in love with the mountains at 14 when she first joined the Colorado Mountain Club; meanwhile, Rick was already backpacking and climbing in the Wind Rivers of Wyoming. 




Eric Linder

Imagine taking a six-month sabbatical to lead small volunteer teams across 5 continents in 5 months to provide medical assistance to some of the most overlooked and indigenous regions of the world. That’s just what member Eric Linder, RMP, FAWM, is doing through his nonprofit headquartered in Las Vegas, Team 5 Foundation. Team 5 is a medical foundation comprised of special operations forces, ultra-athletes and survival experts who venture to the most remote locations on earth to educate local healthcare workers, provide remote medicine and donate supplies so they can be self-sufficient. The foundation has no political or religious affiliation, they are there to “just do the right thing with no strings attached.”

So what kind of background prepares you for creating such an organization? A 30-year history in law enforcement, military, international peacekeeping and corporate security and safety.




Tamara Hew-Butler

Let's get to know another faculty member who will be speaking at the WMS 2020 Winter Conference! Our program chairs made this suggestion after we requested a recommendation for #MemberMonday, and we can tell from her response that you're going to love her. Here's what Tamara Hew-Butler, DPM, PhD, FACSM, who will be speaking on Nutrition for the Endurance Athlete and Exercise-Associated Hyponatremia, had to say when we asked her to tell us about herself:

You will find me at the 2020 Winter Conference by looking for the smallest full-grown adult (~90lbs) in the room. I’m the car without a driver, the mop of (black) hair darting through the crowd, the voice you hear - but cannot see - behind the lectern. My history as a long-distance runner explains most of my petite and elusive nature. So, if you need to find me, head for the trails or glance under lampshades.




Corey Winstead

It's #MemberMonday and today we are featuring Assistant Chief of the Appalachian Mountain Rescue Team (AMRT), Corey Winstead, W/AEMT. In addition to AMRT, Corey serves on two other rescue squads, Burke County SAR and Buncombe County Rescue Squad. 

After more than ten years leading wilderness expeditions with North Carolina Outward Bound, Corey recently began PA school at Wingate University. He's is an AMGA-certified Single Pitch Instructor and is pursuing his FAWM. 

Corey was the lead author on the education chapter in the Wilderness EMS textbook by fellow member, Seth Hawkins, MD, FACEP, FAEMS, MFAWM, and serves on the board of directors for the Carolina Climbers Coalition.




Chris Van Tilburg


Christopher Van Tilburg, MD, FAWM, is basically the epitome of wilderness medicine. He is a mountain rescue doctor with Crag Rats Mountain Rescue, of Hood River, Oregon, the oldest mountain rescue team in the nation, and participates in half the rescues annually. He also has a practice in occupational and travel medicine, works in the local ER, and works at the ski resort mountain clinic. He has been a cruise ship doctor, led expeditions to six continents, and serves as the county medical examiner and public health officer.

A key contributor to where the WMS is today, Christopher served on the WMS board of directors from 2000-2006 and edited Wilderness Medicine Magazine for 10 years, taking it from a newsletter to a magazine. In other leadership roles, Christopher has served as chair of Medical Committee of Mountain Rescue Association and on the delegation to International Commission for Alpine Rescue. 




Brian Irwin

Brian Irwin is a physician in a rural family practice clinic near North Conway, New Hampshire. Outside of the office, he serves on multiple ski patrol and search and rescue teams in medical director and volunteer capacities. 

Brian started climbing in high school and his most memorable adventure has been climbing the Moose’s Tooth in Alaska, a grade V ice and alpine climb that is 3000 vertical feet of technical terrain. His partner and him completed the climb in 19 hours, tent to tent. Now Brian climbs less, skis more and enjoys travel medicine, expeditions and fly fishing. He’s the New England Field Editor for Fly Fisherman magazine. Fly fishing has always been an important part of his life, and yielded many friends in remote places, like the Abacos in the Bahamas, where he just returned from doing medical relief.




Ally Abel


Did you know the WMS has Student Interest Groups (SIGs)? This #MemberMonday, we are excited to introduce you to Ally Abel one of our SIG leaders and rising stars in family and wilderness medicine!

An All-American soccer player in high school, Ally continued her soccer career at the University of Rochester. While at Rochester, Ally majored in the neurosciences, minored in psychology, and concentrated in bioethics. She was recognized as a Provost Circle Scholar in her junior year - the highest academic honor for student-athletes, inducted into Phi Beta Kappa, and graduated with distinction in research and cum laude honors in 2013. Additionally, Ally enjoyed volunteering as an EMT-B and Field Training Officer for her campus’ emergency response team as an undergraduate.




Rom Stevens

We had the pleasure of getting to know Captain Rom Stevens, MD, at the Winter Conference in Park City this past February. Rom was born, raised and educated in Wisconsin and started climbing, backpacking, and sailing as an undergraduate at UW-Madison. 

Rom is an anesthesiologist who served in the US Navy and Marine Corps for more than 36 years and has been deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and East Africa, where he served as the senior US medical officer for all US forces there. By necessity, Rom became an expert in areas such as travel medicine, Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC), operational preventive medicine, public health, malaria prevention, staffing remote medical clinics, aeromedical evacuation, blood banking in remote settings, medical logistics and medical staff support to the commanding general. 




Frank Butler

Last month the Defense Health Agency - The Joint Trauma System & The Committee on Tactical Combat Casualty Care (Tactical Combat Casualty Care - TCCC - DoD Committee on TCCC) held a retirement dinner honoring CAPT Frank K Butler, MD, USN (Ret) in San Antonio. WMS past president and 17 year CoTCCC member Dr. Brad Bennett had the privilege of presenting Dr. Butler with a WMS letter of congratulations and a WMS coin.

Early-on, Frank recognized the commonalities between wilderness and battlefield medicine and helped develop a collaboration between the CoTCCC and the WMS that continues today. In addition to serving as the chair of the CoTCCC, Frank served on the WMS Board of Directors and was a frequent contributor to the Wilderness Medicine Magazine and the Wilderness & Environmental Medicine journal.




Bryan and Deb Simon 

We love highlighting wilderness medicine rock star couples, and Bryan and Deb Simon are definitely one of those! The Simons, who met on Mt. Kilimanjaro in 2001, are co-founders of Vertical Medicine Resources, and in 2017 became the first nurses ever to receive a Master’s degree in Mountain Medicine. They have co-written a climbing and wilderness first aid guidebook called Vertical Aid, have their DiMM and FAWM certifications, and both are past recipients of the Warren D. Bowman Award.

You might recognize Bryan’s name from our Wilderness Medicine Magazine. In addition to his regular contributions to the climbing column, Bryan also serves in an editorial capacity on several other publications, as well as serves on multiple nonprofit boards. He is a graduate of West Point and the US Army Ranger School, and is a former U.S. Army infantry officer.




Sue Spano

Susanne Spano, MD, first developed her passion for wilderness medicine as an emergency medicine resident in Fresno, CA through participation in the National Park Service Parkmedic Program. After learning how wilderness EMS is delivered and administrated, pursuing a fellowship to hone a growing interest in academics seemed a fruitful choice. She was lucky the fellowship director agreed! 

One of Sue’s longtime goals has been to find ways to answer practical questions facing wilderness enthusiasts in an evidence-based manner. She continues to carry out this goal by serving on the research committee and by serving as a peer reviewer for the Wilderness & Environmental Medicine (WEM) journal. She has co-authored multiple WEM journal articles on topics such as rattlesnakes, lightning, diarrhea, and wound irrigation, and was recognized for her contributions to the journal this past summer as one of the 2019 Peer Review Award winners.




Melissa Boetig

View WMS Video Interview

MAJ Melissa Boetig is small but mighty. Despite the potentially intimidating title, she’s one of our friendliest members and always is willing to help with a smile on her face. She has a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Family Nurse Practitioner degree as well as her FAWM and DiMM. We convinced her to sit down with us in Crested Butte at our Summer Conference last month and tell us a little bit about herself and some of the important projects she’s working on. Although you can’t tell, Melissa was nervous and she informed us of one quick correction on TECC – the acronym stands for Tactical Emergency Casualty Care (easily confusable with the C’s in TCCC). The devastating events of this past weekend serve as another reminder of the importance of this new training being offered to members next year.



Ray Storm

Did you know that “Leniret De Chao” means “alleviate the chaos?” This is what WMS member and FAWM candidate, Ray Storm aims to do. 

Ray may not be able to stop all of the chaos in the world, but at least mitigate it in the backcountry. Ray is an extremely fit, enthusiastic and energetic AEMT from Bend, Oregon. His passion for wilderness medicine started at 11-12 years old when his parents introduced Ray and his brother to the wonders of the great outdoors but made sure the boys were well equipped with safety and survival knowledge—Ray started taking first aid classes in his teens. 

The most recent of his many memorable outdoor adventures over the course of his very active life was last year, when he lived in a van with his wife and traveled around South America. They visited many wonderful places, climbed some great peaks, and have memories for life. 




Jonathan Schechter

Our members have diverse backgrounds and a variety of occupations, but we recently came across a new one - a lighthouse keeper! Jonathan Schechter is a former paramedic and firefighter with a great sense of humor and an endless supply of stories. Check out a handful of his adventures below in today's #MemberMonday post (it's a long one but good one)!

"I’ve been a fan of outdoor exploration and nature’s way ever since I was a toddler running barefoot in rural Connecticut holding up my underwear with one hand and carrying a frog, or snake in the other. That was more decades ago than I care to remember. Not that much has changed. I now run around Michigan woods in pursuit of wild creatures but a belt holds up my pants. My earliest recollection of medical “things” most likely came from my mom in those early years for I knew she was nurse and she had been “an army nurse”. My dad, a professor of biology in New York City fueled my passion for all things wild.




Erin Drasler

Building a community of like-minded individuals who support each other in their endeavors is what the WMS is all about and we love hearing about encouraging stories like this one of members supporting other members!

Erin Drasler is an emergency medicine physician in Denver, CO and just received her Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM). She has been a WMS member since 2009 and came in SECOND in this summer's Leadwoman challenge, a progressive series of trail run and mountain bike events ranging from 26.2 to 100 miles, for a total of 282.4 miles. 

Two years ago, Erin completed the race while 4.5 months pregnant. Check out the adorable photo of her daughter Ridge with her belt buckle and mining axe as the youngest Leadwoman "finisher" ever!




Muir de Wet


How do you top trekking through Africa for a year? You build a boat and sail around the world. Brothers Muir and Oloff de Wet, a medical doctor and a PhD mathematician and engineer, are doing just that. We had the pleasure of meeting Muir at Winter Conference this past February and are excited to share his story on this #MemberMonday:

"The dream to sail around the world was born in Dakar, Senegal. My two brothers and I had just finished a year long Africa overland 4x4 trip and were looking down onto the sailboats at the yacht club. Beers in hand, we wondered whether any future adventure could surpass the one we've just experienced, when we realised the answer was bobbing right in front of us.

The dream started to become reality in 2010 when I quit my job as Aerospace Medicine Specialists in the Middle East and Oloff resigned as professor in mathematics at his university.




WMS Video Interview!

What’s “D2M2”? Find out in our #MemberMonday spotlight with Christanne Coffey, MD, FACEP, FAWM!



Drew Morgan

As excited as we are about the start of the 2019 Summer Conference, there's even bigger news to share: WMS member Andrew Morgan is one of three astronauts launching into space today, 50 years after the Apollo 11 moon landing!

Dr. Morgan is an emergency physician in the U.S. Army with sub-specialty certification in primary care sports medicine. He is a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point, NY and the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD. Prior to his selection to NASA’s 21st group of astronauts, Dr. Morgan served in elite special operations units worldwide.




Darryl Macias

According to Darryl Macias, achieving ridiculous dreams, and taking others on the journey with you, is the stuff careers should be made from. As a medical student at UCLA, he was already an accomplished climber, with a resumé of Yosemite classics and Andean peaks, while mentoring other climbers as he was mentored. When a surgery attending laughed at his idea of creating “mountain medicine” in the early nineties, Macias said he just stared back and said, “You’ll see.” 

As a new attending in emergency medicine, he was “forced” to decide on a career path; his experience in Himalayan expeditions and personal survival would be his niche. However, when his best friend and climbing protégée died on an expedition to Shishapangma in late 1999, the tragedy cemented an earlier dream that mountain medicine had to become a reality.




Sara Squyres

It's #MemberMonday and today we're featuring another individual with a big heart. She is a life member, was the very first WMS Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine, and also happens to be our first physician assistant to spotlight! Meet Sara Squyres, PA-C, MPAS, FAWM.

Sara’s first formal job in medicine was as a candy striper in 8th grade and she says has always loved the outdoors. She graduated from University of Houston in 1976 with a biology degree, and after working in labs for several years, she knew she wanted to work more with people. Sara attended the PA program at Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and graduated in 1982. Four months later gave birth to her first daughter, Erin. 




Olga Dobranowski

BIG congratulations to Olga Dobranowski who just summited Ama Dablam solo! This was Olga’s first time setting foot in the Himalayas and this beautiful technical mountain in Nepal towers at 6,812m or 22,349 ft. In addition to her ascents of Aconcagua and Denali last year, she embarked on this challenge as a fundraiser for the Wongchhu Sherpa Memorial Hospital.




Allison Gordon


We're so excited to do our first student #MemberMonday post! We stumbled across Allison Brooke Gordon(and her 11,000+ followers!) on Instagram and were immediately impressed by this rising star.

After high school, Allison received the prestigious Chancellor’s Scholarship, a full tuition at Vanderbilt University plus a stipend for a summer immersive experience. She studied Molecular and Cellular Biology as well as Medicine Health and Society, an interdisciplinary healthcare major. In addition to working at the outdoor rec center leading horseback riding, canoeing, climbing and ski trips, Allison spent a great deal of time in college working with the homeless population in Nashville, volunteering at the Children’s Hospital and engaging with Best Buddies, a program that helps form friendships between individuals with and without disabilities.




Benjamin Abo


How much longer will you live if you exercise? Find out how Benjamin Levine and other experts answered this question in today's #MemberMonday post.

Dr. Levine was also quoted in the article we shared last week on the 70-year-old who completed an ultra-marathon, and his study showing that extreme exercise in middle-aged athletes does not raise heart disease risk or mortality was recently published in JAMA Cardiology. He is the Professor of Internal Medicine and holder of the Distinguished Professorship in Exercise Sciences at UT Southwestern Medical Center, as well as Founder and Director of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine (IEEM). 




David Saint-Jacques


Today's #MemberMonday post is out of this world! Meet David Saint-Jacques, an astronaut whose current home is the International Space Station. This WMS member is an engineer, astrophysicist, and family doctor who is scheduled to return to Earth this July. 

David launched into space in December on his first mission, "Perspective," and is conducting Canadian and international science experiments and technology demonstrations. David also supports critical maintenance and operations activities such as robotics and spacewalks.


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Sam Schimelpfenig, MD10/1/2020