Carilion wilderness medicine program provides care in atypical environments

Published: May. 31, 2022 at 6:46 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - A program that is one-of-a-kind in this area is designed to help those who experience emergencies in the wilderness.

“It’s a subset of medicine and at its simplest, it’s really medicine in the wilderness environment,” says CJ Waasdorp, a physician with Carilion Wilderness Medicine.

Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital is the only one in the region to offer a wilderness medicine program, where physician are experts on providing medical care in an atypical environment.

“Many of us do specialized training in mountain medicine which covers cold illnesses, technical, high angle, and prolonged field care, and altitude and similar conditions,” he says.

A wilderness physician responded to the incident where a hiker fell at McAfee knob early Sunday morning. Roanoke County Fire and Rescue says that hiker was identified as Paul Classen, 23, of the Netherlands and that he died at a hospital.

“Us as physicians, we can come and offer any additional skills that we have,” explains Waasdorp. “Most of the time a lot of the best care, in cases like the recent case, is delivered by the fire and rescue team.”

Whether it’s making an unusual tourniquet or dive medicine, the Star City’s proximity to so many outdoor activities makes this kind of program vital.

“We have lots of stuff in the Roanoke area that is outdoor activities, outdoor recreation. When folks get into trouble and need medical assistance, that’s where we tend to have the stuff we find fun,” he adds. “It’s medicine in the wilderness environment and Roanoke is a great place to do that because it’s so close, despite being a nice city, to a wilderness environment.”

Carilion Roanoke is one of the only NP/PA wilderness medicine programs in the country, and also the region’s only Level 1 trauma center.

Copyright 2022 WDBJ. All rights reserved.