Medical direction of wilderness and other operational emergency medical services programs

Craig R. Warden, Michael G. Millin, Seth C. Hawkins, Richard N. Bradley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Within a healthcare system, operational emergency medical services (EMS) programs provide prehospital emergency care to patients in austere and resource-limited settings. Some of these programs are additionally considered to be wilderness EMS programs, a specialized type of operational EMS program, as they primarily function in a wilderness setting (eg, wilderness search and rescue, ski patrols, water rescue, beach patrols, and cave rescue). Other operational EMS programs include urban search and rescue, air medical support, and tactical law enforcement response. The medical director will help to ensure that the care provided follows protocols that are in accordance with local and state prehospital standards, while accounting for the unique demands and needs of the environment. The operational EMS medical director should be as qualified as possible for the specific team that is being supervised. The medical director should train and operate with the team frequently to be effective. Adequate provision for compensation, liability, and equipment needs to be addressed for an optimal relationship between the medical director and the team.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)37-43
Number of pages7
JournalWilderness and Environmental Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • emergency medical services
  • medical direction
  • operational medicine
  • search and rescue
  • wilderness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


Dive into the research topics of 'Medical direction of wilderness and other operational emergency medical services programs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this