About Us

Seth Hawkins, MD, FACEP, FAWMOUR 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