1st Masters in Mountain Emergency Medicine - International Collaboration Conference

What a week we had October 5th - October 11th! 19 physicians from Italy, Slovakia, Chile, Brazil, the U.S. and the Netherlands joined in New Mexico for a week of conference and practical training in Mountain Emergency Medicine. This collaboration marked a milestone in international collaboration for the UNM Austere and Mountain Medicine program, and we are left feeling grateful to host such an exceptional group. Each physician represents a locus of progression that continues to advance the level of medical care delivered to sick patients in the most challenging mountain environments. 

We thought our readers might like to read a description of our activities, accompanied with plenty of photos and a few snippets of video documenting the week. We anticipate this is just the first of many opportunities to engage other leaders of mountain medicine from around the world, sharing ideas and pushing the standards for rescue in the mountains. 

Arrival and Conference

After a hand full of trips to the Albuquerque International Sunport, the group assembled on Monday at the UNM School of Medicine for an afternoon of lectures. The timing of the trip was great, and many participants saw the sky filled with balloons that were flying as a part of the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta

Here is a list of the lecture topics and presenters for this afternoon of conference...


  • History of Rescue Operations in the United States - Jason Williams, NR-P, DiMM, Director UNM Mountain Med
  • Snake Bites and Stings of the Desert Southwest - Darryl Macias, MD, FACEP, DiMM, Primary Faculty UNM Mountain Med; Director UNM Wilderness, Austere and International Emergency Medicine Fellowship and Clerkships
  • Lightning Injuries - Dane Abruzzo, NR-P, DiMM, Primary Faculty UNM Mountain Med
  • High Altitude Cultures and Adaptation - Joe Alcock, MD, Faculty UNM Mountain Med, UNM Evolutionary Biology
  • Climbing and Rescue Equipment and Systems Research - Pull Testing - UNM Faculty

Conference Day 2 - Special Guest Dr. Ben Levine

Day 2 was packed with didactics and we were happy to have Dr. Ben Levine as a guest lecturer. Dr. Levine has been a leading researcher in the field of exercise science for over 2 decades, and focused his talks for us around high altitude adaptations in athletes. He is a practicing cardiologist at UT Southwestern, and the current director & original founder of the Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine. Also on the docket was Marc Beverly, PA-C, UIAGM Mountain Guide and PhD in Exercise Science, who presented some preliminary findings from his original research investigating Harness Suspension Stress. Here is a brief synopsis of all the lectures that day:

  • Heat Illness and Hyponatremia - Trevor Mayschak, NR-P, Primary Faculty UNM Mountain Med, Grand Canyon SAR Paramedic
  • State-of-the-Art Training at Altitude - Ben Levine, MD, Professor UT Southwestern, Director IEEM
  • Harness Suspension Stress - Ben Levine, MD, Professor UT Southwestern, Director IEEM
  • Lawful/Unlawful Training Methods - Ben Levine, MD, Professor UT Southwestern, Director IEEM
  • Oxygen and the Gut Microbiome - Implications for MountaineersJoe Alcock, MD, Faculty UNM Mountain Med, UNM Evolutionary Biology
  • Taos Ski Valley Case Reports - Carl Gilmore, EMT-I, Taos Ski Valley Ski
  • Dislocations, Reductions and Fractures - Darryl Macias, MD, FACEP,  DiMM, Director UNM Wilderness, Austere and International Emergency Medicine Fellowship and Clerkships; Primary Faculty UNM Mountain Med
  • EMS Systems with the US Border Patrol - Russ Baker, DO, UNM EMS Fellow

The Grand Exodus - To the Grand Canyon!

On Wednesday morning we packed the vans and headed out to the Grand Canyon. The focus here was on practical exercises, ranging from practice utilizing the iStat for heat related illnesses to High Angle Rescue Evolutions to a helicopter med-evac demonstration. Photos and video do these days justice, so take a look below...

As was perfectly stated in the video by Dr. Luigi Festi, this is only the beginning, and the faculty at the University of New Mexico Austere & Mountain Medicine program couldn't be more excited to see what the future has in store. We are happy to continue meeting and working with individuals from around the world that share the vision of what mountain rescue and mountain medicine can become. 

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below about this adventure, our programs, or the many partners we have met through this process. 

- UNM Austere and Mountain Medicine Team -