December 2014

Staying safe in the wilderness for real.

I am sitting outside the Landmark Learning classroom in Cullowhee, NC on a warm and sunny December afternoon. My cohort is a mixed group of individuals from all parts of the country (think as far as Iowa and Pennsylvania), coming from different backgrounds, all here to learn about safety in wilderness. I’ve had some fairly moderate and technical experience in the outdoors when I went on a mountaineering expedition in Patagonia, Chile. But with more time in the outdoors, the one habit I need to ingrain is safety - my own and that of others.

My WFR course at Landmark Learning is giving me just that - the tools to administer wilderness medicine in case of a medical emergency.

The instructors for this course are Rob and Dan. A great pair with significant training and work experience in backcountry, the military and internationally. Taking a 9 day course that goes to 8am - 5pm can get to you after a while, but out here in Cullowhee, our instructors make the learning interesting and real. We learn and then we practice emergency scenarios in our camp setting. Repeat. The in-class learning is as fun as the learning outside. The more rescue scenarios I practice, the safer I know I am in the wild. The facilities provide the right balance of the outdoors, while being only 20 minutes from the nearest town.

With a background in computers and now a business school grad student, I am the individual who’s most likely to be rescued, rather than being a rescuer; but with the WFR (hopefully) that won’t be the case going forward. Day 9, exam day, gets closer; I feel I am prepared, but I still need to go the extra mile, just as the outdoor medics do so in their everyday lives.



Past Landmark Learning graduates Pat and TJ Beezley who work as Subaru Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, recently created a short film on Leave No Trace principles relating to dogs.  Landmark instructor Jon Lowrance and his dogs (Toby & Tucker) made their debut in this blockbuster movie! Check out the video, it is titled "Leave No Trace with Dogs Infomercial".




Two final updates to share with you as we close out 2014. Thanks again for your support of a great Externship season this Aug-Sep!


1) The Wilderness Medical Society has approved the 2014 Externship month for an astonishing 160 credit hours towards Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. This does not include the ACWM AWLS-Black Mountain course the weekend preceding the Externship, which is another ~20 credit hours. I don’t know of any other program in the country accredited to provide this many FAWM credits in only four weeks! If you were involved in one of the Externship classes, or in the Summit, Seminar, or the UNC Carolina Wilderness Medicine Lake Day, you can claim your credits here:


2) Our recruitment process for the 2015 season has begun. The 2015 Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship will be held Aug 31-Sep 27. This also means we will be holding the Carolina Wilderness EMS Summit Sep 26-27, and the Carolina Wilderness EMS Seminar on Sep 25 in 2015. If you know of someone who would be a suitable applicant to serve as an Extern (applicant must be an MSIV medical student or resident physician), please contact me directly for an application. Information about the program, including eligibility criteria, is available at but the 2015 application has not yet been uploaded. We are in the process of moving the entire Externship web platform over to, and that process should be complete by January 2015. Until then please contact me directly for application materials for the 2015 season.


Thanks for your support!

Landmark Learning affiliate Mingai provided medical support for the racers at the multi-sport race in Ecuador.  Mingai employs WMI WFR and WEMT graduates from around the world to post up along this rugged race course - maybe one of the most rugged and varied terrain adventure race in the world.  Check out this heartwarming article about Sweden's Peak Performance team that competed in Ecuador this month. They competed in the Adventure Racing World Championship with an unlikely teammate that suprised everyone.