Participating Agencies – Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship

Burke County Emergency Services (BCEMS)
BCEMS forms the backbone of the Extern’s field experience. This agency was awarded “Model EMS System” status by the State of North Carolina in 2002 – one of the first agencies to receive this designation.

BCEMS was also the first agency in North Carolina to develop a wilderness EMS program, known as their Special Operations Team. Today, they field a Special Operations paramedic in the field 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at Station 5 in Jonas Ridge overlooking Linville Gorge. These Special Operations paramedics are meticulously trained in technical rescue and wilderness medicine. They perform most of the medical care during wilderness rescues, and serve as primary field teachers for the Carolina Wilderness EMS Externs during their month here. In addition to wilderness response, BCEMS also maintains a tactical EMS team to serve the two county SWAT teams. These tactical paramedics are drawn from the Special Operations team and are cross-trained in wilderness and tactical medicine. This is particularly important in the Burke County environment, where it is very plausible that SWAT operators will be called to missions into the county’s multiple wilderness areas.

BCEMS also provides standard EMS response to the county’s citizens. The EMS system is progressive and off-line in principle, with advanced protocols such as Rapid Sequence Induction in the field and paramedic ECG interpretation. This tradition of paramedic autonomy means that the paramedics are outstanding instructors for Externs during their mandatory EMS ridealong, and Externs are exposed to a high level of EMS care even during their traditional EMS experiences.

Multiple independent agencies that operate within the BCEMS System Plan also participate in the Externship. These include Burke County Rescue Squad, Burke County Search & Rescue, and over 17 Fire Departments and First Responder agencies.

Western Piedmont Community College
Externs serve as instructors for Western Piedmont Community College (WPCC) during their month here. WPCC’s Emergency Services Division provides all continuing education training for Advanced and Basic Life Support within the county (10 in-service trainings each month). In addition, WPCC serves as the host institution for the Carolina Wilderness EMS Summit held each year as the capstone experience of the Externship.

Department of Emergency Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine
The Wake Forest University’s EMS Fellow directly participates each year in the Externship. Wake Forest University supports the Externship and the associated Seminar and Summit in multiple other ways, and Dr. Hawkins is an Assistant Professor in the Wake Forest University Department of Emergency Medicine.

Blue Ridge HealthCare Graduate Medical Education
Externs are credentialed as trainees with Carolinas HealthCare System-Blue Ridge. The Externs carry a pager to be called in for any environmental emergencies seen in this hospital’s emergency departments. CHS-Blue Ridge has two emergency department campuses, CHS-Blue Ridge-Morganton and CHS-Blue Ridge-Valdese.

North Carolina State Parks
Dr. Hawkins is medical director of the North Carolina State Parks, and Externs participate in trainings and emergency reponses at the two state parks located in Burke County, South Mountains State Park and Lake James State Park.

To contact us, please email Seth Hawkins, MD