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2018 EMS10 Winner Profile: Seth Hawkins

Wilderness EMS is often a field forgotten in EMS until the ambulance can’t drive to the patient. The Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship is an innovative experience designed by Seth Hawkins, MD, FAEMS, FACEP, MFAWM, medical director at Burke County EMS (Morganton, North Carolina), that differs from most wilderness medicine electives in that the emphasis is almost entirely on EMS activities rather than general wilderness medicine.

Hawkins is the catalyst for a paradigm shift within the medical education community, particularly for medical students who desire to become leaders within EMS. There are several ways that this program is redefining prehospital care for both paramedics and EMS physicians/medical students, including an emphasis on horizontal hierarchy, the Safety Third principle, flipped didactics with paramedics training medical students and the “Esse Quam Videri” training model.

The Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship is a highly competitive and prestigious program that brings in two medical students to live and work within Burke County and experience both rural and wilderness prehospital care. The program takes a novel approach to training physicians, particularly those whom desire to be leaders within their EMS systems.

With his experience and expertise in the wilderness, Hawkins has published Wilderness EMS, the first textbook of its kind, which translates traditional EMS to austere, rural and limited-resource areas. It brings the lessons learned to others who may be thrust into one of those environments, either voluntarily or without warning.

In the book, Hawkins includes innovations like recommending against rigid cervical collars of any sort, the first publication of the phrase psychological first aid, the first discussion of EMS sepsis management in the wilderness, and the first comprehensive wilderness medicine/wilderness EMS timeline. Bottom line: It’s the first comprehensive multiauthor chapter textbook ever for wilderness EMS.

Assembling a group of experts in the field, Hawkins took the idea from conception to product in a rapid timeline with skill as an editor. Many other wilderness medicine texts apply improvised good Samaritan-type responses, but this text is for those agencies that are assigned a duty to act in those environments and embraces the medicine in these technical rescue situations.

With no other wilderness EMS books, the book by Hawkins will become the standard for many wilderness medicine and EMS programs around the world. He has taken extra steps to ensure not only the success of the book, but also the expertise of the authors he actively promotes. This book benefits physicians, paramedics and other EMS providers, as well as nurses and other Allied health professionals. The material is technical yet easy-to-read and understandable with outstanding diagrams. The evidence behind the material is exceptional and has been tested in the field as well as in the realm of research.

“Working on Wilderness EMS has been a true labor of love for me and has been one of the highlights of my career so far, both in terms of sharing this information and getting to work with such an outstanding group of authors,” says Hawkins. “We all believe that the quality of EMS care delivered in the wilderness should be the same as that delivered in any other environment. This commitment to quality and innovation is clearly portrayed in each author’s chapter. We hope the entire book as a whole has a significant, positive impact on the systematic medical care delivered in remote, austere, resource-deficient, and wilderness areas.”