Symposium Faculty

3rd International Symposium Faculty:

Chris Berger: Chris grew up in the San Juan Mountains. He has spent many days and nights exploring the southwest on foot, bike, skis, and boats. He had many mentors in the health care field. His journey in medicine began with a WFR class followed by an EMT class in high school. Upon graduating high school, he started working with Purgatory Ski Patrol and volunteering at Durango Fire Protection District. A passion for pre-hospital medicine was fostered through these organizations. Since then Chris obtained his paramedic education through the HealthOne. He currently works for Durango Fire Protection District and is a member of the technical rescue team. He also works for Purgatory Ski Patrol and Silverton EMS as well as volunteering for La Plata County Search and Rescue.

Greg Childress, NRP: After several years in the cubicle world of instructional design Greg ventured out into his emergency services career in 2001. Starting out as a firefighter-EMT with Osceola County Fire & Rescue in the metro-Orlando, FL area he spent 8 years working in a high volume, low-income district. Although the work experience was extremely valuable and rewarding, living in the Orlando area was becoming increasingly less appealing as the population swelled substantially during that time. Yearning to get back to the small-town living he grew up in, Greg loaded the wagon and headed west for Durango in 2009 and began working as a firefighter-paramedic for Durango Fire & Rescue. In 2015 Greg was given the opportunity to take over the position of Volunteer Coordinator for DFR where he currently supports a division of 72 amazing community members serving as volunteers in a variety of capacities. During his time in Durango he also served as DFR’s Community Education Coordinator and Silverton San Juan Ambulance Association’s Training Coordinator.

Russ Costa, Ph.D:  Russ Costa is an Associate Professor of Honors & Neuroscience at Westminster College in Salt Lake City. He is a broadly trained cognitive scientist who studies attention and perception inside the lab, and risk-taking and decision-making outside of it. He holds a B.A. from Middlebury College and an M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Utah in psychology, specializing and cognition and neural sciences. Russ is also an avid skier and mountaineer, who regularly presents to both community and professional audiences on risk perception, judgment, and decision-making in avalanche terrain.

Jim Donovan, Emergency Manager,  EMT-B, Conference Planning Committee Member:  Jim is an avid mountain rescue specialist.  He serves as the Emergency Manager for San Juan County and is a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician based out of Silverton Colorado. He serves as the Captain for the San Juan County Search and Rescue Team and works on the local ambulance service. Jim is trained in high angle rescue and works on rock and ice mediums. He has extensive wilderness rescue experience, ranging from jungles to mountains. In the winter months he directs the Silverton Avalanche School, the historic and premier avalanche training program based in the heart of San Juan Mountains. He is an avid backcountry skier and enjoys climbing the mountains throughout the year.  Jim has professional certifications in avalanche and rope access work. He represents SAS at ICAR.

Tim Durkin, DO: Dr Durkin starting doing rescue work as a member of the Appalachian Search & Rescue Conference in the early 90s. He worked as a Paramedic, BLS/ACLS instructor, and on a DARPA program management team prior to medical school. He completed residency at Albert Einstein Medical Center, the busiest trauma center in Philadelphia. In the decade since residency he has practiced emergency medicine at large and small hospitals in the region and been very involved with EMS and mountain rescue. In 2018 he completed sports medicine fellowship at the University of Florida (Go Gators!). He is the medical director for La Plata County (CO) Search and Rescue, the Base-Medical.com online wilderness medical school, and former medical director of Albuquerque Mountain Rescue. He provides sports physician coverage for several area races, including the 12 Hours of Mesa Verde and the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run. Dr Durkin is boarded in both sports and emergency medicine, one of less than 200 physicians certified in both fields. He works clinically at Durango Sports Medicine and the Indian Health Service ED in Shiprock, NM. Dr Durkin lives in Durango with his wife and their cat. They enjoy backcountry skiing and mountain biking.

Ian Ellis, EMT: Ian began his career in Silverton, Colorado as a volunteer EMT in 2014 and has since pursued extensive training in technical rope rescue, avalanche rescue, and wilderness patient care. Ian is currently a full-time EMT with Silverton Ambulance/Mountain Rescue, and works at a community hospital emergency department in Grand Junction, Colorado. Over the course of the past 6 years, Ian has been involved with hundreds of rescues and has a passion for teaching the next generation of mountain rescue specialists the knowledge and foundation of what he has learned.

Risa Garcia, MD: Dr. Risa Garcia went to medical school at Saint Louis University, and completed an Emergency Medicine residency at the University of New Mexico.  She is currently a fellow in the UNM Wilderness, Austere, and International Medicine Fellowship at UNM. During residency she completed the Diploma in Mountain Medicine where she excelled demonstrating both her ability to learn and quickly apply high level of technical skills and displayed superb leadership skills. She has a strong interest in endurance events and has done research regarding those completing the Rim to Rim to Rim at the Grand Canyon. She has also provided medical aid for the Trans-Pecos Ultramarathon and the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon.  Her interests include hiking, biking, skiing, climbing, and spending time and instagramming with her dog, Auggie. (Follow her at #augiethedoggie)

Manuel Genswein:  Manuel is a native of the Swiss Alps who lives in Meilen and has done snow-safety work in 29 countries. Using an electronic engineering background, he has also developed rescue products and techniques that have been applied around the world. He invented the Easy Searcher avalanche beacon training device used at many ski resorts around the world. He also developed the V-shaped conveyor-belt shoveling approach and the optimized search strategy for multiple burials.

Peter Hackett, MD: Dr. Hackett is a world renowned high altitude expert and altitude research pioneer. He is a leading authority on altitude illness, high altitude climbing, wilderness medicine, and the effects of altitude on people living and working in the mountains. Peter is also a board certified Emergency Physician. He has been at the frontier on altitude research, with years of experience in the Himalayas, Denali, South America and in Colorado. Peter has authored more than one hundred articles on altitude issues, has edited six books and is respected internationally for his expertise. In addition to his extensive clinical and research experience, his recreational activities of high altitude mountaineering, skiing, and living at altitude have lent him a personal understanding of altitude physiology. This includes the 111th summit on Mt. Everest. Peter directs all executive, clinical, research, and educational activities of the Institute for Altitude Medicine.

Tim Henley BS, NRP, DiMM:  Tim has been working professionally in the austere setting since 1998 when he began leading wilderness courses for Outward Bound. Tim has worked for Project Adventure, Philmont Scout Ranch, worked in residential treatment (taking kids climbing and skiing), and has guided clients climbing in the Sandias. Tim has been actively involved in the Austere and Mountain Medicine Program since graduating from UNM in 2015. He practices medicine in New Mexico with the Santa Fe Ski Area pro-patrol, UNM Reach and Treat Team, and as a member of local area event EMS companies. Tim grew up in the greater Boston area as has been making up time for that in various mountain settings, backpacking, canoeing, skiing, climbing, biking, hunting, fishing, and now in mountain rescue. Tim teaches WFR and WFA courses while also instructing paramedics, nurses and physicians as they complete their Diplomas in Mountain Medicine.  Tim’s interests include heuristics in decision-making and psychological and behavioral issues. 

Kimmet Holland NRP AIARE II, Conference Planning Committee Member:  Kimmet has an extensive 35 year EMS/Rescue/fire background. He started his EMS, Fire and SAR careers in the Albuquerque area in 1982. His experience includes volunteering with Bernalillo County Fire Dept. and Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council. He worked at Albuquerque Ambulance paramedic, field supervisor and left in 1998 as an operations supervisor. During this time he also worked part-time as a flight paramedic and for the Town of Bernalillo EMS. Kimmet started his fire career in 1998 with Santa Fe County Fire Department as he worked his way up the ranks from paramedic/FF, Lieutenant, and retired in 2012 after 8 years as Assistant Chief of Operations and Training. During this time he was the Chair of Santa Fe Community College EMS program’s advisory committee and the director of Santa Fe County Fire Department’s Academy.  Kimmet also worked part-time as a ski patroller for Santa Fe Ski Area. Currently he is the Director of Silverton’s EMS, Member of San Juan County Mountain Rescue and is on the Board of Directors for Silverton Avalanche School. Some of his certified skills include: high/low angle rescue, swift water rescue, confined space and trench rescue and avalanche rescue. Hobbies include skiing, climbing, mountain/road biking, backpacking and rafting….to name a few.

David Hughes, MD: Dr. Hughes is an emergency physician who came to work at Mercy Regional Medical Center in Durango, CO in 2004 after completing EM residency in Grand Rapids, MI.  Soon after arrival, he began providing medical direction to Upper San Juan ambulance in Pagosa Springs, CO where he found great satisfaction working with medics.  Since then, he has affiliated with several other agencies and is currently the medical director of Silverton ambulance / San Juan County SAR, Durango Fire & Rescue, Flight for Life- Durango base, Purgatory Ski Patrol.  He also acts as EMS liaison for Mercy Regional Medical Center.  The vast amount of high mountain wilderness adjacent to red rock desert is primarily what drew him to Durango and he enjoys any activity that involves exploration of his amazing backyard.

Jake Jensen, MD: Jake Jensen is an Emergency Medicine physician who completed a Wilderness, Austere, and International Fellowship program with the University of New Mexico and has remained there as faculty. He enjoys teaching wilderness medicine at all levels and has also practiced and taught medicine in Haiti, Chile, and Nepal with plans to continue teaching nationally and internationally in the future.   He has a very loving and supportive wife who puts up with his antics, travels, and hobbies.  He also has 4 adventurous children that love the outdoors, help him pack for his trips, and look forward to when they can travel more with him.  In his limited spare time he enjoys backcountry skiing, mountain biking, backpacking, and simply sitting around the camp-fire.

Brandon Laird, Chief Pilot, Certified Flight Instructor, BS: Mr. Laird has over ten years working as a helicopter pilot. He has several thousand total hours and over 1,000 flight hours providing instruction and has spent the bulk of his career completing rescue missions in mountainous environments.  He is a certified flight instructor and instrument flight instructor.  He has an Aviation Bachelor’s degree and is currently the Chief Pilot for Colorado Highland Helicopters Search and Rescue, Ltd.  He provides advanced pilot training and works with public agencies in SW Colorado to provide technical helicopter search and rescue.

Dayle Morningstar Laird, MS, FP-C: Mrs. Laird has 16 years working in the pre-hospital environment.  She started out her career on the beaches of Florida, spent time in Albuquerque’s urban environment and moved to Colorado to fly in the mountains.  She has a Master’s degree in Healthcare Management and is a Certified Flight Paramedic.  She manages the Public Use aspect of Colorado Highland Helicopters Search and Rescue Ltd. and works with local EMS, Law Enforcement and SAR in SW Colorado to provide a safer and more affordable option for pre-hospital helicopter rescue services.

Heather Lauritzen RN, BSN, CCRN: Heather is currently working as a flight nurse at Flight for Life Colorado Lifeguard 5 in Durango, Colorado. Heather has been an ICU nurse since 2010 starting at the University of New Mexico and  throughout the west for several years as a traveling ICU and ER nurse. She is a new member of La Plata County Search and Rescue in 2019 and is an outdoor enthusiast with a love for biking, snowboarding, camping, hiking, climbing and traveling. 

Leo Lloyd RN, NRP, Conference Planning Committee Member: Leo is currently a Captain with Durango Fire & Rescue in Durango, Colorado and coordinates the department’s Technical Response Team. Much of Leo’s pre-hospital medical / rescue experience (over 35 years) has involved both ground ambulance paramedic responsibilities in the Durango area and 9 years as a critical care flight nurse / paramedic with the Air Care Medical Flight Program based in Farmington, New Mexico. Leo is an active member of La Plata County Search & Rescue in Durango and Silverton EMS and Mountain Rescue in Silverton, CO. Leo is also an instructor with Rigging for Rescue based out of Ouray, Colorado. Leo has had the opportunity to instruct technical rope rescue seminars for teams all over the world. Finally, Leo is an active climber (rock and ice), ultra-runner, and backcountry skier living in Durango, Colorado.

Darryl Macias MD, FACEP, FAWM, DiMM: Darryl is one of the least known personalities of our time. Yet he has read many books on how to do mountain medicine, and believes he can communicate what he has learned meaningfully.  Although he “practices” medicine in his spare time (he is still trying to get it right), the art of illusion (“education”) is his strength. He has received many teaching awards, including “Best Homeschool Dad of RGES” in Albuquerque. He also shows up occasionally at ACEP, WMS, and AAEM conferences impersonating more important people. Although he pretends to know about many cultures and languages, he just likes to make people think that he can do it. Yet he loves to teach others how to do what he does, dragging his acolytes the world over until they submit to his methodologies.

Charles W Mains, MD, FACS: Attended Duke Medical School and completed surgical residency at the University of Colorado Medical Center. He is board certified in surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons. Dr. Mains is the trauma medical director at St Anthony’s Hospital, an American College of Surgeons verified Level I trauma center, and is the director of trauma for the Centura Health Trauma System which includes 15 Centura trauma centers and 8 other affiliated hospitals throughout Colorado and Kansas. He chairs the Mile High Regional Trauma and Emergency Medicine Advisory Council as well as the trauma center Designation Review Committee for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. He is the author of numerous publications involving both basic science and clinical research, and often serves as an invited speaker on a wide variety of trauma topics. Activities include rock and ice climbing, skiing, fly fishing and biking.

Jay Mathers, DO FAWM c-ISTM Conference Planning Committee Member: John ‘Jay’ Mathers, graduated from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine, he earned his BA from the University of Colorado at Boulder.  While at CU-Boulder, Jay taught climbing and mountaineering courses for the University of Colorado Outdoor Program. After graduating from CU-Boulder he went on to work for the Colorado Outward Bound School teaching mountaineering/technical climbing courses and working as a ski patrolman for the Telluride Ski Patrol.  In 1999, he worked his first VIP patrol with the Denali National Park Service at the 14200’ camp doing mountain rescue work for the NPS as a VIP. After this he participated in two more patrols, one in 2000, and then in 2005 as a 4th year medical student.   He trained in Family Medicine at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and practices rural emergency medicine and hospitalist medicine. He is board certified in Family Medicine and is a fellow in Wilderness Medicine.  He is currently the emergency department director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at Animas Surgical Hospital, founder and CEO of the Colorado Mountain and Travel Medicine Clinic and The Mountain Medicine Institute, LLC in Durango, CO.

Trevor Mayschak BS, NRP, DiMM: After completing my Bachelors of Science in EMS and the Diploma in Mountain Medicine program at UNM, I then went on to intern with Grand Canyon National Park as a Paramedic. During my stay there, I provided ALS services on the ambulance, down the trail, and on the helicopter. After completing my internship, I moved back to Albuquerque to work for the various wilderness medicine and mountain rescue courses here at UNM. During my time as a lecturer, I have provided education for the National Park Service at Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon, Yosemite, and Carlsbad in addition to the various search & rescue teams throughout the State of New Mexico. I have taught and presented original research on topics related to technical rope rescue at the 7th World Congress on Mountain and Wilderness Medicine as well as the International Technical Rescue Symposium. Outside of work, I spend most of my time in the amazing outdoors of the Southwest.

Nate McGrath, NRP: Medicine and providing care is in my blood.  My father was a pediatrician for over 40 years and always encouraged us to have a well-rounded medical knowledge focused around backcountry medicine. I was hooked on medicine after attending my first Wilderness Medicine Society conference in Big Sky Montana wen I was 16. Obtaining my EMT Basic with IV when I was 18 allowed me to begin volunteering for a small volunteer fire department in Indian Hills outside of Denver. Once I moved back to Durango, I began volunteering for Durango Fire Protection District (DPFD) and worked as a professional ski patroller at Wolf Creek Ski Area seasonally for 5 years. After finishing my undergrad with a BA in Psychology at Forest Lewis College, I began working seasonally for DFPD wild-land fire module in the summers and continued ski patrolling in the winter. Realizing prehospital medicine was my calling, I became a year-round part time employee for DFPD operating on an ambulance. Working on the Idaho City Hotshot crew allowed me to realize that paramedicine is my passion and I returned to DFPD full-time and attended the Healthone Paramedic program. I am currently a full-time Paramedic/Firefighter. With the strong interest in backcountry medicine, I am a technician on the DFPD Technical Rescue Team which participates in technical rescues of various magnitudes and severity.

Travis McGrath RN BSN CFRN, Conference Planning Committee Member: I am a flight nurse and Durango base manager for Flight For Life Colorado at Mercy Regional Medical Center.  I have been in the medical profession for 20 years ranging from a ski patrol position to my currently held profession.  My outdoor experience is fairly broad to include outdoor education, guiding and most recently adventuring with my 2 young children.

Scott McIntosh MD, MPH, FAWM, DiMM: Dr. McIntosh is a tenured faculty member in the Division of Emergency Medicine at the University of Utah. He serves as the Medical Director of Summit County, where he oversees all teaching and clinical aspects of the paramedic and ambulance services.  He also serves as Associate Medical Director of AirMed, the University of Utah’s medical flight service. Dr. McIntosh’s role also includes Director of the Wilderness Medicine Fellowship, which trains graduates in the academic and clinical skills of this speciality. He has authored over 25 scientific papers and book chapters, and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the Wilderness & Environmental Medicine Journal. He received his bachelor’s degree from Duke Univeristy, medical degree from the University of Vermont, and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Utah.

Jamie Newberry, MD: Dr. Jamie Newberry went to medical school at the Weill Cornell Medical College, and completed her residency in Emergency Medicine at the New York Presbyterian University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell. She is now a fellow in the UNM Wilderness, Austere and International Emergency Medicine Fellowship, having distinguished herself in her leadership skills and outdoor acumen in previous UNM wilderness medicine clerkships for medical students and residents. She is involved as an assistant medical director for the Badwater 135 Ultramarathon, as well as a high altitude researcher under the auspices of Stanford University.

Aaron Reilly, MD, DO, DiMM: Dr. Aaron Reilly is an Emergency and Wilderness Medicine Physician at the University of New Mexico. After completing five years of active duty as a US Navy Flight Surgeon, he went to UNM to complete a fellowship in Wilderness, Austere, and International Emergency Medicine, and the Diploma in Mountain Medicine. Dr. Reilly now serves as core faculty for the UNM International Mountain Medicine Center, instructing the DiMM, and director of the UNM Wilderness and Austere medicine student and resident elective. He specializes in ultra-endurance medical support, and is the director for the Trans Pecos Ultra, a stage ultramarathon in West Texas.

Scott Sholes, BA, EMT-P: Scott began his EMS career as an EMT with the pre-hospital program at Mercy Medical Center in Durango, Colorado in 1979, then graduated from the Swedish Paramedic Program in 1982.  He has been active in both ground and aeromedical service as a paramedic.  In 1984 he co-founded the Mountain Response Team in La Plata County, merging ALS medical and technical rescue in the backcountry setting.  In 2001, Scott collaborated with multiple agencies to develop what is now the EMS system in Durango, and is currently the EMS Chief for the Durango Fire Protection District, coordinating and advancing the EMS program. He is actively involved at the regional, state and national levels in EMS, and is particularly passionate about promoting a safety culture. He served for 5 years on the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians EMS Safety Course Committee, developing the first two versions of the course.  Scott is also a founding board member and President of Heart Safe La Plata, an internationally recognized public access AED program with over 350 AEDs in La Plata and San Juan Counties.  Scott is currently in his third term as President of the Emergency Medical Services Association of Colorado, is Chair of the Southwest Regional Emergency and Trauma Advisory Council, and Chairs the La Plata County EMS Council.

Maggie Sullivan, RN, BSN, CCRN, CFRN: Currently a flight nurse with Flight for Life’s Lifeguard 5 Base in Durango, CO. Prior work experience includes Burn/Trauma ICU at University of Colorado Hospital and Pediatric ICU at Children’s Hospital Colorado. Outdoor passions include skiing and mountain biking.  

Kyle Thornton MS, NRPKyle has served as the Emergency Medical Systems Bureau Chief for the State of New Mexico DOH since 2007, overseeing the state’s Emergency Medical Services, Trauma, Stroke, and STEMI programs. He is the President Elect of the National Association of EMS Officials (NASEMSO), and also is a member of the National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians Board of Directors.  Additionally, he serves as a member of the Committee on Accreditation of Educational Programs for the EMS Professions. Kyle has been involved in EMS for over 30 years, obtaining his New Mexico Basic EMT license in 1984, and his New Mexico Paramedic license in 1987.  He obtained patient care experience with several services over the years, including Albuquerque Ambulance Service, Lifeguard Air Medical Service, and the Sandoval County Fire Department, where he was the Deputy Chief and EMS Chief from November 2004 until 2007. Kyle has been active in EMS Education since 1990, and spent nine years at the UNM School of Medicine’s EMS Academy, eventually serving as the BLS/ILS Program Director.

Jason Williams BS, NRP, DiMM, Conference Planning Committee Member: As Director of the International Mountain Medicine Center at the University of New Mexico, I oversee all Austere, Wilderness, and Mountain Medicine programs. I am the founder/director of UNM’s Diploma in Mountain Medicine program and co-direct the Wilderness Medicine Rotation for fourth year medical students and residents. I grew up in the world of EMS and SAR and have practiced my love of mountain rescue for over 15 years. Most recently I formed a specialized mountain rescue group through the UNM EMS Consortium called the Reach and Treat team. When I’m not at the university, I collaborate with Beverly Mountain Guides and have been an integral component to notable expeditions including a National Geographic documented excursion of the crystal caves in Mexico. I have rock climbed all over the world but know that nothing beats being perched on a granite cliff face in the Sandia Mountains with my life-long climbing partner/wife.

Jens-Peter Witt, M.D.: I am a board-certified Neurosurgeon at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and currently Director of the Neuro Spine service as part of the Department of Neurosurgery. I finished my Medical School in Hannover Germany in 1992, trained first as Orthopedic surgeon in Germany and then finished Neurosurgery residency in Denver, Colorado in 2000. I became the Chief of Neurosurgery at the Level I Trauma Denver Health Medical Center. In 2003 I focused my practice primarily on spinal disorders and trauma. I am the Director of two complex spinal surgery fellowship positions in the Department of Neurosurgery. I am currently the President of the Colorado Neurosurgical Society and have served on the Governor’s committee on prescription drug abuse.

Stay tuned for more faculty announcements

Faculty Financial Disclosure Statement

It is the policy of the Wilderness Medical Society to ensure balance, independence, objectivity and scientific rigor.  All symposium planning committee members and faculty members participating in the International Mountain Medicine Symposium are required to disclose any real or apparent conflict of interest related to the content of their presentation.  All faculty reported no relevant financial relationships to disclose.

Sponsors of Silverton Mountain Medicine Symposium