Seth Hawkins, MD

Dr. Hawkins, the Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship course director, holds dual board certifications in emergency medicine and EMS, and is the first physician ever awarded the degree of Master Fellow by the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He is Medical Director of Burke County EMS, Landmark Learning, the North Carolina State Parks, and Starfish Aquatics Institute, founder and current Board Chair of the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine, founder and current Chief of the Appalachian Mountain Rescue Team, and co-founder of Vertical Medicine Resources. He is medical advisor of the North Carolina Outward Bound School and Recreational Equipment Incorporated (REI).  He was named a “Hero of Emergency Medicine” by the American College of Emergency Physicians for his work in wilderness EMS in 2008, and received the Wilderness Medical Society Ball Watch Award (now the Ice Axe Award) in 2009.  He also serves as Executive Editor of Wilderness Medicine Magazine and helped develop one of the first wilderness EMS degree programs in the country at Western Carolina University. He is the co-author of Vertical Aid: Essential Wilderness Medicine for Climbers, Trekkers, and Mountaineers and the editor of the textbook Wilderness EMS. He was named one of the Top 10 Innovators in EMS both in 2011, for his work as the co-founder of the Wilderness EMS Medical Course, and in 2018, for editing Wilderness EMS. His current academic appointment is assistant professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine

Burke County Special OperationsBurke EMS Special Operations Paramedics
All Burke County EMS Special Operations paramedics are meticulously trained in wilderness medicine and rescue operations. Many have subspecialties—for instance, some serve as personnel on the state North Carolina HeloAquatic Rescue Team (NCHART), others serve on the county Tactical EMS team, while others serve as officers on local Fire- and Rescue-based technical rescue teams. They each serve as faculty for the Extern experience and share their unique experiences and specialties. A very important part of the Externship training philosophy is that you are truly learning from practicing experts who are currently active in field response.

Wake Forest University EMS Fellow(s), Wilderness Medicine Fellow(s), and Wilderness EMS Fellow(s)
The Wake Forest University EMS Fellow(s) and Wake Forest Wilderness Medicine Fellow(s) have dedicated a year of post-residency training specifically to EMS or wilderness medicine, respectively. As such, they are some of the most highly-trained specialists in these topics in the country. The Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship, along with the Seminar and Summit, provide a significant portion of the wilderness EMS training platform for each year’s Wake Forest University EMS Fellow(s) and Wilderness Medicine Fellow(s). The WFU 2020-2021 EMS Fellows are Brett Dickens and Jimmy Scheidler, and the 2020-2021 Wilderness Medicine Fellow is Chris Peluso.

In 2017, Wake Forest University Department of Emergency Medicine launched the first consensus guideline/accredited Wilderness EMS Fellowship in the world. This Fellowship consists of combining both the year-long EMS Fellowship and the year-long Wilderness Medicine Fellowship.  The Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship is also intrinsically involved in the training and experience of this two-year Wilderness EMS Fellowship experience. The 2017-2019 Wilderness EMS Fellow was Dr. Chris Davis, who upon his graduation in 2019 became the first consensus guideline/accredited WEMS Fellow in the country. Dr. Davis was himself also an Extern in 2013, and currently serves as the Externship’s MD-53 . He is pictured here on the right; on the left is Dr. Stephen Powell, the 2017-2018 WFU EMS Fellow and a current Wake Forest attending emergency physician.

Young-davidDavid Young, Paramedic
Mr. Young is the Global Course Manager for Hawk Ventures. He comes to the Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship from the US Army Special Forces military arena, where he was primarily responsible for training Special Operations medics and other military and civilian medical personnel at Fort Bragg, NC. He is a graduate of the famed Western Carolina University Emergency Medical Care Program, the first Baccalaureate EMS program in the nation, and is the former EMS Coordinator for Western Piedmont Community College. He is a Level 2 NC EMS Instructor and currently works as a paramedic in Rutherford County.


Mr. Brenton Queen, Executive/Health Care Coach
Mr. Queen is an executive coach in private practice in Hickory, NC, and is on our staff in the innovative role of health care coach. He is passionate about people being able to have what they really want in life, and is committed to people seeing their greatness. He has special interest in preventing burnout in physicians, and helping them achieve their goals both professionally and personally. He joins the entire Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship leadership in a particular interest in protecting personal and family relationships in health care careers. In that context, he is also a relationship expert who has been specifically trained to address couples/marital problems including divorce, infidelity, and conflict resolution.

Organizational Staff and Resources
Multiple personnel throughout all the participating agencies are available to assist with the Externs and assure their month is productive, safe and meaningful. In particular, the Graduate Medical Education Office (GME) at Carolinas HealthCare System-Blue Ridge facilitates the logistics of graduate medical education and student/resident credentialing. Burke County Search and Rescue, Burke County Rescue Squad, and Burke County law enforcement officers on specialty teams such as tactical and dive teams all contribute to the learning experience as staff and instructors.

Other outside agencies have served as staff and resources for the Externship as well. These include:

 Current Externs (2020 Season)

MD-67: Stephen Hobson, MSIV, FAWM, DiMM

University of Michigan School of Medicine, Ann Arbor, MI

Stephen grew up in Michigan and has enjoyed the thrill of the outdoors since he was young. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Hope College in Political Science and Communications and minors in History and Philosophy. Following graduation, Stephen served five years on active duty in the United States Army. He completed Infantry training as the platoon honor graduate, Airborne School, and the Special Operations Combat Medic course before becoming a Green Beret. He deployed as a Special Forces Medical Sergeant to Afghanistan and Yemen and was awarded the Bronze Star. He treated hundreds of local Afghans in their remote aid station with everything from pediatric burns to surgical debridement of gunshot wounds. This is what inspired Stephen to become a doctor. After leaving active duty, Stephen continued his path into medicine by completing the Post-Baccalaureate MedPrep program at University of Michigan. He used his experience as a military medic to create a hands-on training program, The First Five, which teaches everyday people how to respond to a medical emergency before an ambulance arrives. So far, he has trained over 170 citizens in his community, obtained over $10,000 in grant funding from innovation competitions, and presented research at the Wilderness Medical Society conference. Stephen is currently a fourth-year medical student at University of Michigan Medical School and continues to serve in the National Guard. He completed the Military Mountain Medicine and Cold Weather Medicine courses at the Army Mountain Warfare School and was recently awarded the Fellowship of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (FAWM) and the Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM). Stephen wants to become an emergency physician working on the front lines, specializing in wilderness medicine. In his free time, Stephen can be found adventuring around Michigan with his wife, Kelsey, 1-year-old son, Sawyer, and their big dog, Posy. He enjoys frequenting local trails and parks, playing guitar and drums, and making his family laugh.


MD-68: Abigail Wehner, MSIV

Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC

Abbie is a 4th year medical student at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC. She grew up in west Texas and attended college at Sewanee: The University of the South in Sewanee, TN, where she first discovered her passion foremergency medicine and pre-hospital care serving as an EMT for Sewanee EMS. After graduatingwith a BA in Spanish Literature, she moved back to Texas to teach 4th grade, but quickly found her way to a career in outdoor education. She worked in the wilderness for 8 years as a backpacking and rock-climbing instructor with NOLS and wilderness therapy field guide through Open Sky Wilderness Therapy. During this time, she had the chance to professionally adventure through the West, from the Rocky Mountains and the Wind River Range to the canyons of Utah and high desert in Arizona. She earned her Wilderness First Responder certification in 2009 and her WEMT in 2014 and used that training while helping countless novice adventurers experience the Great Outdoors. Those trips included month-long backpacking expeditions and rock-climbing and canyoneering courses. At Wake Forest University, she has served as the Vice President of the Wilderness Medicine Interest Group. In that role she helped initiate wilderness first aid response simulation as part of the first year student orientation program, helped plan for and execute the Lake James Wilderness Medicine Day, and planned and executed the Southeastern Medical Student Wilderness Medicine Conference. Abbie is looking forward to a long and fulfilling career in Emergency Medicine in which she will continue to expand her ability to serve on the front lines of medicine, whether in an emergency room or on a mountainside. While in medical school, Abbie makes sure to prioritize getting outside for climbing, rafting, kayaking, and general outdoor tomfoolery. She is usually joined by her husband, Wes, her adventure-hound, Finn, and some of her closest adventuring friends.