Michigan Wilderness Medicine assists National Park Service with emergency training

August 19, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

Earlier this summer, members of the Department of Emergency Medicine’s Wilderness Medicine Program traveled to the Upper Peninsula to assist the National Park Service with its annual emergency training requirements for personnel.

Brouwer, Byrne and Kokkinos at Isle Royale.

Two faculty members and a senior resident drove nine hours from Ann Arbor to Houghton, Michigan, to board the National Park Service’s Ranger III vessel for a six-hour ferry ride due north to Isle Royale. The pristine archipelago of approximately 400 islands measures over 45 miles long and is surrounded by the crystal-clear waters of Lake Superior.

The National Park Service invited the team to lead training sessions for personnel, including their park medics, who are National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians-certified prehospital providers and Wilderness EMTs. Over the next several days, Nathan Brouwer, M.D., Brendan Byrne, M.D., and Erika Kokkinos, M.D., delivered more than 32 hours of didactic and practical education sessions, drilling the group on their medical knowledge and the unique practical applications of prehospital medicine in such a remote, austere environment.

They enjoyed the remote beauty of the incredible park and the warm hospitality of its dedicated staff, who went out of their way to create a pleasant and engaging learning experience.

The team carried out more than 32 hours of training.

The physicians left having made connections and friendships with a devoted group of professionals who serve tens of thousands of visitors annually in some of the most remote conditions in the contiguous U.S. Day and night in all weather conditions, they respond to medical and traumatic emergencies in the remote backcountry. Park staff face challenging conditions where extrications may take many hours, all before either a six-hour ferry ride or, oftentimes, a long flight to the nearest medical facility

Special acknowledgement must be given to the invaluable contributions made by Emergent Health Partners’ Huron Valley Ambulance education department, whose material support made this initiative possible.