Division of Wilderness Medicine

Kayaks used during a recent trip by the Division of Wilderness Medicine
"The Delta, to me, is an American Amazon that few have entered and fewer still know and understand." – Naturalist E. O. Wilson

About the Program

The USA Department of Emergency Medicine works with the Tensaw Wilderness School to provide the Wilderness Medicine Program. The school is a source of wilderness skills training, adolescent experiential education, medical school education and first aid training. With the use of our marine and delta ecosystems, USA is the only primarily water-based wilderness medicine program in the United States. 

Since 2014, the USA Department of Emergency Medicine has run the USA College of Medicine’s wilderness medicine senior elective. The department is planning the first Wilderness Medicine Fellowship on the Gulf Coast.

Our efforts are not just limited to electives. Our educational programs are all part of our vibrant, rapidly growing “SWAMP Institute” (South Alabama Wilderness and Austere Medicine Programs), which is soon to become a formal division of emergency medicine at USA. It consists of a spectrum of activities, all related to resource-limited environment practice. Wilderness Medicine is the first program and most developed thus far, but the SWAMP Institute will eventually include expedition medicine, undersea medicine/hyperbarics, travel medicine, tactical medicine, disaster relief, and international EM/global health.

 

Photos from recent trips by the Division of Wilderness Medicine
Photos from recent trips by the Division of Wilderness Medicine
 

This is the "real deal"

We get out in the wilderness to teach the skills one needs to respond to natural disasters, humanitarian crises, and search and rescue operations. We offer CME courses to the community.

We encounter wild animals, flooding, cold, rain and insects. We teach how to paddle against the wind and upstream, all the while seeing the wonders of the Mobile Tensaw Delta. We teach how to respond and overcome challenges in the wilderness.

We instruct how to buy the right gear, tool maintenance, proper paddling techniques, and staying dry in the rain. We will teach how to cook a great outdoor meal and enjoy the time outside.

We teach how to rise to the challenge of primitive camping. We do this so our doctors are prepared to respond to a natural catastrophe or humanitarian crisis. We want them to be the one who goes there, not the one who evacuates from there.

 

Photos from recent trips by the Division of Wilderness Medicine
Photos from recent trips by the Division of Wilderness Medicine
 

Photos from recent trips by the Division of Wilderness Medicine
Photos from recent trips by the Division of Wilderness Medicine
 
"What we already do with the USA senior elective would be the envy of most emergency medicine programs in the country." – Raymond Maguire, M.D., Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine

Featured Locations

Mobile Tensaw Delta: 300 square miles, with 180,000 contiguous acres protected by state and federal agencies. It is one of the most biologically diverse places in the United States.

Grand Bay National Wildlife Refuge: A 32,000-acre refuge. The habitat is marked by wet pine savannah, maritime forest, tidal flats, salt marshes, bays, and bayous.

Gulf Coast barrier islands: A 60-mile journey that will take participants across the Gulf Coast, island-hopping barrier islands for the trip of a lifetime.

 

Photos from recent trips by the Division of Wilderness Medicine
Photos from recent trips by the Division of Wilderness Medicine
 

Faculty Spotlight

▼   Lynn A. Yonge, M.D., Director of Wilderness Medicine 
A lifelong outdoorsman and an Eagle Scout, Dr. Yonge received his medical degree from the University of South Alabama, where he also completed his family practice residency. He was a member of the first class of Fellows of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine, has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Wilderness Medical Society, and is a past chairman of the Environmental Council of the Wilderness Medical Society. Dr. Yonge serves as a faculty advisor for the USA Wilderness Medicine Student Interest Group and leads the senior elective in wilderness medicine. 
▼   Walker Plash, M.D., Associate Director of Wilderness Medicine
An avid camper and backpacker, Dr. Plash earned his medical degree from Vanderbilt University and completed his residency training in emergency medicine at the University of Cincinnati. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and an instructor for the senior elective in wilderness medicine at USA. He is an expert in plant and animal toxins, with a special interest in copperhead envenomations. He is the associate director of wilderness medicine and an assistant professor in the USA Department of Emergency Medicine. 
▼   Raymond Maguire, M.D.
Spending 10 years as an Outward Bound instructor before going to medical school, Dr. Maguire received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina. He completed his residency training in emergency medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. He is an expert canoeist and outdoor enthusiast, with a special interest in managing interpersonal conflict in austere environments. He is an instructor for the senior elective in wilderness medicine and an assistant professor in the USA Department of Emergency Medicine. 
▼   Grace Lagasse, M.D.
An expert in international medicine, Dr. Lagasse received her medical degree from Temple University and completed her emergency medicine residency at University of Cincinnati. Afterwards, she completed her Fellowship in Global Health and her Master of Public Health at the University of Cincinnati. She has traveled extensively to developing regions of the world, providing both direct patient care and performing research relating to improving outcomes in traumatic injuries. She is the director of Global Health and an assistant professor in the USA Department of Emergency Medicine. 
▼   Michael L. Sternberg, M.D.
A clinician with over 30 years of clinical practice, Dr. Sternberg received his medical degree from LSU School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA. He is an Alabama ACEP board member, and is the clerkship director for the medical school. Dr. Sternberg has won numerous teaching awards from residents, College of Medicine students, and other health students. He has decades of boating experience in the region and is the leading regional expert on venomous snake bites.

 

Photos from recent trips by the Division of Wilderness Medicine