About Us

OUR MISSION: The Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine is a regional non-profit organization dedicated to promoting quality medical care in limited resource ("wilderness") environments. The Center serves as a regional resource to southern Appalachian states -- North and South Carolina, West Virginia, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland, and Alabama.

OUR VISION: The Center promotes collaboration in wilderness medicine and addresses unmet needs in our region. We serve as a nexus for regional wilderness medicine-oriented institutions, agencies, and individuals. Our program includes field and classroom seminars, conference support and promotion, certification courses, networking/intercommunication, consultation services, research, regional recreation/training opportunities, collaboration with other outdoor sports and rescue organizations, and other activities. Underlying all our activities is a commitment to promote quality activities already in place from other organizations and to introduce new resources which are not yet present.

OUR STRUCTURE: The Center currently consists of a Board of Directors and a Steering Committee. Individuals on these bodies are drawn from a diverse set of backgrounds, including risk management lawyers, wilderness medicine specialists and teachers, wilderness EMS specialists, paramedics, field professionals (archaeologists, etc), hospital administrators, university professors, researchers, physicians (representing the broad range of wilderness medicine, including emergency physicians, family practitioners, orthopedists, trauma surgeons, and others), wilderness school and experiential education professionals, non-profit organizers, medical simulation specialists, and many others. We continue to grow rapidly in order to represent the true wilderness medicine community of southern Appalachia.

All our activities are designed to enhance communication and collaboration in the research, teaching and
practice of wilderness medicine in the southern Appalachians.


Monthly Bulletin. Central to our mission of connectivity is a monthly bulletin. This bulletin is distributed monthly via email. It keeps the Center community updated on regional wilderness medicine activities offered by us and other organizations. To subscribe to this bulletin click here, or email us at info@appwildmed.org.

Calendar. We also maintain a calendar of all known wilderness medicine events in our southern Appalachian region. This calendar is always available at this website by clicking on the Regional Training link on the upper navigation bar. In general this calendar promotes the training offered by other organizations, since numerous organizations are already in place that teach excellent wilderness medicine classes. However, our activities are also listed on this calendar. 

AWLS Course. We offer an annual Advanced Wilderness Life Support course for healthcare providers, which we teach under license from the University of Utah and AdventureMed. Click on the link for more detailed information.

Regional Activities.  ACWM sponsors Regional Activities that combine recreational opportunities with teaching.  Click on the link for more detailed information.

Networking and Center Leadership.  ACWM is run by a Board of Directors and maintains an Advisory Council, which serves as the brain trust for wilderness medicine in the southern Appalachians.  Emailinfo@appwildmed.org for information on either of these leadership groups.

Other Activities.  In addition to its primary regional organizing function, ACWM has served as an incubator for other local, national and international programs, such as the Green EMS Initiative, a precursor to the International Institute for Sustainability in Emergency Services (iiSES).  It has also served as a partner in multiple regional wilderness medicine and safety initiatives.  These include partnership with the New River Alliance of Climbers in Fayetteville WV (arising from the need to address wilderness medicine education within the southeaster climbing community), Friends of Seneca positioning first aid caches at the popuar and historic climbing area Seneca Rocks), and instruction at various events, including the Roanoke GO Outside Fest and the New River Rendezvous.  ACWM also sponsored the ACWM Southeastern Student Wilderness Medicine Conference from 2008-2012.  The Southeastern Student Wilderness Medicine Conference is now independent and run by Wake Forest University and Blue Ridge Adventure Medicine, but is still supported by ACWM, along with other southern Appalachian conferences such as the Southeast Wilderness Medicine Conference and the Appalachian Wilderness Medicine Conference

Future Activities. What can we do to enhance your wilderness medicine experience in the southern Appalachians, or to promote quality wilderness medicine research, practice and teaching?  Email us at info@appwildmed.org!



OUR PUBLICATIONS: We authored an article describing the history and philosophy behind regionalization in wilderness medicine organizing, and our specific efforts in this regard, which was published in the January 2009 issue of the scientific journal Wilderness & Environmental Medicine. Click here for a pdf copy of this article, which is an excellent introduction to our work and mission. Our activities have been featured in the January 2009 issue of Our State, in the December 2008 issue of Best Practices in Emergency Services, and in the Winter 2008 issue of Wilderness Medicine magazine. Many of our students have written accounts of their experiences with us (including, for example, the journal Nursing.)




Since 2007, we annually present the Founder's Award to an individual who has provided extraordinary service to the Center.

Beginning in 2008, we began presenting the Mountain Laurel Award, awarded each year to an individual or group who has made extraordinary, lasting and substantial contributions to wilderness medicine in the southern Appalachians. It is intended to be a lifetime achievement award, and is the highest honor we can bestow.

  • 2008: Tom Kessler of Gallatin, TN (WMS Student Elective in the Great Smoky Mtns, TN)
  • 2009: Jack Ditty of Morgantown, WV (director of the Appalachian Wilderness Medicine Conference, WVU faculty)
  • 2010: Michael Caudell of Augusta, GA (MedWAR founder, MCG Wilderness Medicine faculty)
  • 2011: Justin Padgett of Cullowhee, NC (founder and director of Landmark Learning; founder and author of Starguard Wilderness Lifeguard course)
  • 2012: Chris Moore of Chattanooga, TN):  founder of the Southeastern Wilderness Medicine Conference; Venue Medical Coordinator, Whitewater Competition, 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games; Medical Director, World Cup Whitewater Competition; Founder, Wilderness Medical Society Environmental council; Wilderness Medical Society's Delegate to the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro
  • 2013: Slim Ray
  • 2014: Seth Hawkins of Morganton, NC
  • 2015: Jono Bryant, Bryson City, NC
  • 2016: Fred Baty, Knoxville, TN

Advisory Council

Advisory Council

Advisory Council


Our Advisory Council replaces the former Steering Committee, which was in operation from 2007-2013.  Our Advisory Council includes members drawn from a diverse set of backgrounds.  We continue to grow to represent the true wilderness medicine community of southern Appalachia.  Should you be on our Advisory Council? Email Stephanie@appwildmed.org

Click here to see our current Advisory Council roster and Advisory Council member biographies.


Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Board of Directors

Dr. Michael Caudellis the current President of ACWM.  He is from Cleveland, GA, completed medical school and emergency medicine residency training at the Medical College of Georgia @ Augusta University, in Augusta, Georgia.  Dr. Caudell is a Professor of Emergency Medicine and the Medical Director for Wilderness and Survival Medicine within the Center of Operational Medicine at MCG. He is also the Director of the Wilderness Medicine Fellowship and is one of the founders of MedWAR (Medical Wilderness Adventure Race), serves as the Executive Director for the annual Southeast Race and is a serves on the Board of Directors for the North American Educational Adventure Racing (NAEAR). He is a former Chair of ACEP's Wilderness Medicine Section and Chair of the Fellowship Directors Committee. Dr. Caudell serves on the Board of Directors for the Wilderness Medical Society (WMS) and is also a former chair of the WMS Education Committee. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM).   He has earned his Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM) and certifications in Level I Swiftwater Rescue, Advanced Open Water and Rescue Diving.

  • Mark Ellis (Greenville, SC):

    Dr. Mark Ellis works as an emergency physician at Spartanburg Regional Medical Center and an assistant professor at the Via College of Osteopathic Medicine. A graduate of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, Dr. Ellis completed his residency in Emergency Medicine at the Orlando Regional Medical Center in Florida and a Wilderness Medicine Fellowship at Stanford University's School of Medicine in California.  He has worked as a medical director for numerous multiday adventure races all over the world with Racing the Planet (TM).  When he is not in the hospital, Dr. Ellis enjoys exploring and hiking southern Appalachia with his wife, Sarah, and four young kids - Taylor, Noah, Emma Kate and Luke. He also spends time backpacking, playing guitar, rock climbing, disc golf, taking photographs, running marathons and traveling.

  • Seth Collings Hawkins, Past President (Morganton, NC)

Dr. Seth Collings Hawkins holds dual board certification in both emergency medicine and EMS (field medicine), and has worked for over twenty years in wilderness medicine and out-of-hospital emergency medical care. He is the founder of multiple wilderness medicine organizations including the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine. He serves as executive editor of Wilderness Medicine Magazine and Chief of the Appalachian Mountain Rescue Team. He has written extensively on wilderness medicine and is the editor of Wilderness EMS and co-author of Vertical Aid: Essential Wilderness Medicine for Climbers, Trekkers, and Mountaineers. He is a Master Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and a full-time clinical emergency physician in the mountains of NC.

Randy is an emergency medicine PA at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, Va. He is also the Advanced Practice Clinician in Emergency Medicine Fellowship Director at Carilion Clinic. He is an assistant professor at Jefferson College of Health Sciences in the PA program. Randy has been active in wilderness medicine for many years. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine. He also works at Snowshoe as a ski patroller during winters and ACE Whitewater as a river guide during the summer and fall seasons. When not working or teaching Randy can be found on the river!

Larry Jones served for 29 year as an Environmental Scientist with the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Physical Geography from the University of Delaware.  As a 38-year National Ski Patrol member at Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain Ski Area, he was awarded an NSP National Appointment. He is an Outdoor Emergency Care and AWLS Instructor, and has received certifications in PHTLS and BTLS, as well as ski patrol avalanche and mountaineering training. He is an NREMT and is a Fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine through the Wilderness Medical Society.  He is a member of the Board of Directors for the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine.  In addition to skiing, he enjoys hiking, backpacking and kayaking.

Stephanie is an emergency medicine physician at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke Virginia and Asst Prof at the VT-Carilion School of Medicine.  She is the wilderness medicine fellowship director. She completed medical school and residency at Wake Forest. She completed the Wilderness Medicine Fellowship at Georgia Health Sciences, where she also served as a Clinical Instructor in the Dept. of Emergency Medicine.  As a medical student, she co-founded the Southern Student Wilderness Medicine Conference, which is currently in its 10th year. She served on the WMS Board of Directors as the student representative. She is currently a director of the WMS Student Elective in New Castle, VA.
Stephanie has earned the Fellowship of Wilderness Medicine through the WMS. She has also earned a Diploma in Mountain Medicine, through the military mountain medicine course and through the WMS.
In her free time Stephanie enjoys mountain biking, backpacking, rock climbing, skiing and SCUBA diving. She is excited about co-directing the medical student wilderness medicine elective at Virgina-Tech Carilion School of Medicine and the WMS Student Elective.

Linda Laskowski-Jones is the Vice President of Emergency & Trauma Services at Christiana Care Health System in Wilmington, Delaware.  She received her Bachelor’s and Master's degrees in nursing from the University of Delaware. Her professional experience spans over 30 years of clinical practice, education and leadership.  Linda is the Editor-in-Chief of Nursing, the Journal of Clinical Excellence. She is also currently appointed to the Editorial Board of International Emergency Nursing (UK), and has served on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Emergency Nursing and the Journal of Trauma Nursing.  She is a highly published author and national speaker on emergency, trauma, and wilderness topics.  With 28 years of volunteer service, Linda is an active member of the National Ski Patrol and patrols at Pennsylvania’s Blue Mountain Ski area where she received the "Purple Merit Star" for saving a human life, and recognition by the National Ski Patrol for excellence in emergency care. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine, an Advanced Wilderness Life Support Instructor, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine.  Linda received the 2015 Warren Bowman Award from the Wilderness Medicine Society in recognition of accomplishment and professional commitment to service to the Society. She also received the Founder’s Award from the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine in 2015 for outstanding service.

Mary Lou is a professional business manager from Roanoke, VA.  She has been with Snowshoe Mountain (WV) Ski Patrol as a part-time professional patroller and staff trainer since 1995. Mary Lou currently serves as the National Ski Patrol's West Virginia Senior Program Coordinator. She also works at a river guide at Class VI in West Virginia.  She is on the Advisory Council for the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine and has coordinated efforts at regional events such as Go Fest. When not working Mary Lou can be found paddling, climbing, or snowboarding.  

A former river rafting guide, Henderson McGinnis is a assistant professor in emergency medicine at Wake Forest University.  He is the medical director of Wilkes County EMS and AirCare, Wake Forest University’s air medical service, and also serves as an assistant professor at Western Carolina University, where he is helping to design a wilderness medicine baccalaureate program for paramedics. Henderson serves on the Board of Directors for the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine. He is an avid kayaker and rafter and is now exploring ways to share this passion with his two young sons. 

Patrick is an emergency medicine resident at Carilion Clinic in Roanoke VA. He earned his MD at Wake Forest SOM  in the spring of 2014 and completed his Fellowship of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine prior to graduation.  While inmedical school, he has spent much of his free time organizing wilderness medicine events, including the 5th and 6th annual Southeastern Student WIlderness Medicine Conferences.  In 2012, Patrick joined the Board ofthe Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine as the student/resident member.  In his time exploring the backwoods of North Carolina, Patrick recognized the importance of wilderness medicine education and has dedicated his time to promoting educational events throughout the region.  He also has a particular interest in the skill set that wilderness medicine training can provide to those looking to travel to third world countries.  Patrick has served on several medical missions to Central America and has seen first hand how wilderness medicine training can improve a healthcare team in those settings. Mountain bikingand rock climbing consume much of Patrick's free time, but he also enjoys the occasional trip to the mountain streams of NC for some flyfishing.  He hastraveled well across the United States, to the Patagonia region of South America, and to Europe for rock climbing on anything from the tall boulders in Joshua Tree, CA to the multi-pitch granite trad routes on Laurel knob, NC.



  • Michael McLaren (Front Royal, VA)

Michael is a Family Medicine Resident physician in Front Royal, VA.  He spent his childhood in rural NY where he has hiked most of the AT from NY to ME and has climbed 25 of the High Peaks in the Adirondack Park.  He participated with canine search and rescue, as well as became a certified first responder and then later an EMT in his teenage years.  Michael went on to enlist in the USMC where he received training in wilderness survival skills and military tactics.  During his enlistment Michael became a PADI Open Water Instructor and taught diving in Okinawa.  After his honorable separation from the USMC he became a commercial diver where he learned more advanced diving techniques and sea survival skills.  Michael worked as a commercial diver and then joined the Georgia Aquarium team to help teach biologists diving techniques and build an indoor surface supplied diving system for the divers there.  Additionally, he provided  field support for biologist collection teams.  Michael went on to pursue his bachelor's degree and during this time he worked as a commercial EMT in Albany and Troy, NY.  He eventually attended medical school at East Tennessee State University and began working on his FAWM during medical school, where he was actively involved in wilderness medicine activities and training.  He founded the Wilderness Medicine Interest Group at ETSU and was honored with the position of Student Representative for the Wilderness Medical Society.  Michael coordinated and hosted the Blue Ridge Adventure Medicine 8th Annual Southeastern Student Wilderness Medicine Conference in 2015. 

A Lecturer in Emergency Medical Care at Eastern Kentucky University, David has been an EMS provider for 16 years. Prior to joining the EKU faculty, David served as professional paramedic and firefighter in Virginia, Washington, DC, and Eastern Kentucky. With experience as a ground search and high-angle rope technician for SAR teams in Virginia and Kentucky, David also currently works as the Special Operations Coordinator for Powell County, Kentucky EMS, where he leads the RedSTAR (Red River Gorge Special Treatment, Access and Rescue) unit. He also serves in the National Disaster Medical System, teaches disaster medical and incident command concepts at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, and is the Chair of the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management's Committee on Wilderness Medicine. David is a member of the Wilderness Medical Society, and is pursuing the Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. 

  • Ben Chopski (Richmond, VA)

Ben Chopski is a general internist from Roanoke, VA. Ben serves as an academic hospitalist and assistant professor of medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University SOM, where he is active with the Unique Pathogens Unit and in ultrasound-based procedure training. His medical career began as an EMT in the Roanoke area. He subsequently earned his medical degree from the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2011 and became active in wilderness medicine activities as a student and medical resident.  When not teaching, he is usually found in his kayak on the James river or hiking in central Virginia.

The ACWM Board is remarkably diverse from both a geographic and provider type standpoint.  

It includes representatives from five different states in our region and includes physicians, nurses, active field responders (medic/ski patrol/mountain rescue), medical students, and nurse practitioners.



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