Aerie instructors are a diverse group, sharing at least three qualities essential for a wilderness medicine instructor. All Aerie instructors are:
- Skilled, enthusiastic and knowledgeable instructors (we are going to count that as one quality!)
- Experienced in a wide variety of outdoor interests and professions
- Involved in health care, almost all professionally, almost all with a minimum of EMT certification
We work closely with our medical director, Greg Moore, MD, and our Board of Advisors to ensure that our curriculum is current and our teaching techniques appropriate. Read through their biographies. Contact them individually or through our office with questions.
In reality, the above qualities form only a baseline standard for employment at Aerie. What you will find truly unique about our staff is their commitment to service. They arrive at class eager to provide the training you need, to answer your individual questions, and to be a resource for you after the course ends. Many Aerie graduates have changed their careers or specialities after taking our courses. Why? In most cases, they tell us it is because of their instructors' inspiration. Sounds corny, but it's true. Most of our staff are Aerie graduates who found something in their instructor that inspired them to work with us. While we don't expect that every graduate will become an Aerie employee, we do expect that their course will have an impact far beyond the topic of wilderness first aid.
Gaytri Bhatia, Instructor
BA Environmental Studies, Mount Holyoke College; WFR
Originally from Bombay, India, Gaytri grew up without much separation from the outdoors - swimming oceans, running along hills, loitering in forests. She worked for 7 years in Boston as an environmental consultant to the US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Following this, she returned to India, splitting her time between agriculture (producing fruits and herbs) and backpacking (working as an Instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership School).
Bryan Bennett, Instructor
B.A. Psychology and Biology (University of Montana), Wilderness EMT, Medical Student (Ross University School of Medicine)
I am originally from Salt Lake City, UT where I grew up skiing, climbing, biking and rafting. My passion for wilderness medicine has been driven through outdoor adventures, ski patrolling, instructing, and patient care experiences. I have worked in a variety of settings including emergency rooms, surgical units and neuroscience laboratories. Additionally I feel strongly about community service and have volunteered in Jamaica, Haiti, and Dominica. I am currently finishing my 2nd year of medical school with interest in family practice and emergency medicine. When I am not buried in school work I love to backpack, travel, backcountry ski and plan river trips.
Ryan Berube, Instructor
WEMT, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Level 1 Avalanche
A current member of the US Coast Guard, I'm proud to call Montana home and look forward to further delving into the medical community. Growing up exploring the White Mountains of New Hampshire and beyond, the West has become my gateway to further adventures and practice of my favorite hobbies, including rock climbing, backpacking, mountain biking, and fishing.
Joe Blattner, Instructor, Management Director
WEMT; NREMT; Lead Instructor & Advanced EMT (Montana); Level I Avalanche; Swiftwater Rescue Technician; Rope Rescue Technician I/II
Originally from Illinois, Joe now calls Missoula, Montana home. He started work with Aerie in 2006. Joe has taught and lectured at all levels of Aerie courses. In addition to teaching he manages a number of operations within Aerie.
Joe is a long-time member of Missoula County Search and Rescue. He’s currently the acting chief of that rescue unit. Joe has taught for the University of Montana since 2010, primarily teaching pre-hospital medical classes. Outdoor pursuits have brought him to guide river trips, work industrial river accidents, and climb high-altitude mountains throughout the world.
Joe graduated from the University of Montana with an associate degree in Information Technology. He went on to complete a Bachelor of Applied Science with significant coursework in pre-hospital emergency medicine and wilderness rescue management.
In his free time, Joe enjoys hiking, sleeping in wind-laden tents, being away from technology and spending time with his dog Hook.
Samantha Boucher, Instructor
ASN, RN, and ACLS
Sam grew up in Northern Wisconsin and fell in love with the woods at a young age. At 18, she moved to Maine to attend the University of Maine, Augusta and acquired her Nursing Degree. While in Maine she fell in love with the ocean and first began exploring nutrition and herbalism as alternatives and complements to western medicine. She moved to Montana in 2013, and has been loving every second here. She spent some time WWOOFing at the Nine Mile Schoolhouse and currently she is working in Home Health as a nurse. In her spare time, she is learning as much as she can about wildcrafting, fly fishing, essential oils, gardening, ultralight backpacking, cooking,and, of course, wilderness medicine.
AEMT, WEMT, BAM, Rope Rescue Technician
I am originally from France and have called Montana my home for several years. I have always loved the mountains, and my favorite outdoors interests include alpine and backcountry skiing, snowboarding, rock climbing, ice climbing and mountaineering. I have been lucky enough to enjoy those activities throughout the European Alps, both as a civilian and as a member of an alpine military unit. In addition to teaching with Aerie at the Wilderness EMT level, I work as a pro ski patroller during the winter and am currently working towards a RN-BSN degree. I am also a member of our county's Search and Rescue unit, and volunteer with the local ambulance service every chance I get. I sincerely believe in Aerie's statement: "Caring for injured or sick people is a privilege. Preparing people for this service is Aerie's mission." I am proud to contribute to this mission, and grateful for the opportunity to keep learning.
Jay Corti, Instructor
Born and raised in Montana Jay grew up skiing, biking and hunting. After 10 years of competitive mogul skiing, he now coaches athletes year round. Now attending Montana State University to finish a Bachelors in Exercise Science with plans to go to Paramedic School after graduation. I still love to be outdoors any excuse I can get. Aerie provides me a great opportunity to travel and teach in the great outdoors.
Eagle Cruz, Instructor
WEMT; Level 2 Avalanche; OEC, practitioner of the Rolf Method of Structural Integration, Upledger Institute of Osteopathy
I live in Frenchtown, MT with my wife Victoria and my two teenage children, our daughter Sophie and son Hunter. We also have an extended animal family with 4 horse, 2 dogs, 2 cats. I am a graduate of Aerie’s WEMT class in 1999. I was a volunteer on the Frenchtown Rural Fire District Ambulance Service for ten years and am the assistant director of Snowbowl’s Pro Patrol. Between ski patrol and ambulance service I have been active in the EMS system for 12 years. I’ve studied martial arts for 30 years and teach kids and adults karate at Viking Martial Arts in Frenchtown. In my free time I enjoy skiing, fly fishing and hunting with my family.
I never imagined myself actually teaching emergency medicine, but the more I teach, the more I realize how much I enjoy sharing what I really love to do.
Danielle Donovan, Instructor
W-EMT, A-EMT, R.N., ACLS, PALS, Level II Avalanche
I was born and raised in the Boston area, but often found myself feeling more at home while skiing, hiking, camping, or riding my horse in the mountains throughout New England. Having always been drawn to the west, I made the decision to relocate to Montana in 2004. In 2006 I completed my WFR with Aerie, which unexpectedly ignited my interest for emergency medicine. This ultimately led me to complete my W-EMT with Aerie in 2008. Since then, I have gained valuable working experience as a Professional Ski Patroller at Grand Targhee Resort, and through continuing to follow my passion for healthcare by pursing an education in nursing. In that time, I also spent 5 seasons living and working on a backcountry, wilderness trail crew on the Bitterroot National Forest. I currently work as an Emergency Department RN at a rural hospital in Big Sky, Montana. Along with wilderness medicine, my passions include rock climbing, skiing, hiking with my dogs, riding my horse in the mountains, and traveling internationally. I have been working with Aerie since the fall of 2012. I take great pride in working for the organization that helped instill in me a passion for emergency medicine, and hope that I can do the same for my future students.
Hannah Fanney, Instructor
EMT, Avalanche L2, ACA Whitewater Instructor L4; Sociology and Social Justice, Northland College, WI
I moved to Montana to work seasonally from the woods of Wisconsin. I studied Sociology and Outdoor Education on the south shore of Lake Superior while propagating stoke at a sea kayak outfitter for six years. In 2016, the desire to explore led me to the Pacific Coast on a 114-day sea kayak expedition to Alaska. If not paddling a long boat, you may also find me seeking out whitewater, cruising mountain bike trails, or cross county running. When the frost arrives, I work as a ski patroller for Big Sky Resort. Passionate about creating safe and exceptional experiences in the backcountry, I make sure to engage her students and to create a positive learning environment.
Chris Flory, Instructor
AEMT; WEMT; Swiftwater First Responder; Hazmat Operations Technician; B.S. Biomedical Engineering
Chris first fell in love with the great outdoors during college, where he led climbing, backpacking, canoeing and caving trips throughout Appalachia with the Johns Hopkins Outdoors Club. Since earning his WEMT in 2011, Chris has worked for ambulance services in Sterling, VA, and Olympia, WA, and is proud to be able to share those experiences and his passion for emergency medicine as an Aerie instructor. He is currently pursing Paramedic studies and is still actively involved in biomedical engineering in addition to teaching for Aerie. In his rare free moments, Chris seeks adventure rock and ice climbing, alpine skiing, cycling, running and paddleboarding.
Nikos Galpin-Plattner, Instructor
Originally from Denver, CO I was introduced to the wilds at an early age. I moved to Montana at the age of 18 and began my wilderness medicine career in 2009 when I recieved my EMT through Aerie. My ski patrol career started on the Snowbowl pro patrol that same season where I worked for 4 years. I recently moved back to Colorado to work on the patrol at Arapahoe Basin and enjoy living in the mountains. When I'm not working I enjoy fishing, skiing, mountaineering and camping.
Richard Gauron, Instructor
Master Scuba Diver, Avalanche 2 ,Technical rope rescue 1 and 2, Cliff Rescue,, Swiftwater Rescue, OEC, WEMT, AEMT.
Originally from Boston, I moved to Bozeman to attend MSU in 2006. I became involved with Search and Rescue and my passion for wilderness medicine took off. After graduation I wanted to commit to my medical passions. I became more involved with the various SAR teams such as the Dive team, which I am a rescue diver on. I took my Wilderness EMT through Aerie and became a pro ski patroller, which is still my winter job. During the summer I had worked as a alpine guide in Alaska where I also responded to medical calls within Wrangle Saint Elias National Park. I am now back in school taking Pre-Med courses with the hopes of returning to Medical School. Im passionate about surfing, diving, skiing, climbing and ice climbing. Additional certifications include, Master Scuba Diver, Avalanche 2 from the National Avalanche School, Technical rope rescue 1 and 2 from CMC Rescue, Cliff Rescue Certification from University of Utah, Swiftwater Rescue training as well as OEC, WEMT, AEMT.
Fernando Giaccaglia, Instructor
WEMT; Swiftwater Rescue Technician
My passion for the outdoors began in my home town of Mar del Plata in Argentina where close proximity to the ocean led me to become a competitive swimmer and later a triathlete. Competing throughout Central and South America introduced me to Costa Rica and a career as an adventure guide with Coast to Coast Adventures. Mountain biking, hiking and rafting in some of the most remote and spectacular locations for twenty years has kept me busy. I have been a Wilderness EMT for over ten years and have been teaching with Aerie that entire time, instructing wilderness EMT, wilderness first responder and wilderness first aid classes throughout the US as well as in Costa Rica and Mexico. I translated Aerie's wilderness medicine text into Spanish and assist running Aerie's free health clinic in Costa Rica each year.
Skeet Glatterer, Instructor
Skeet Glatterer is a Cardiothoracic Surgeon living in Golden, Colorado. He is the Medical Director and Chairman of the Medical Committee for the Mountain Rescue Association. He has a strong interest in the outdoor application of medicine and has been active in the Wilderness Medical Society for over 10 years. Skeet has taught multiple courses at the Colorado Mountain Club where he founded the Mountain Medicine Section. He is an expedition physician for guided mountain trips from Alaska to Russia, Africa, and Nepal. Skeet is an OEC (Outdoor Emergency Care) Instructor Trainer, ski patrols at Copper Mountain Resort in Colorado, and is a member of the Alpine Rescue team in Evergreen, Colorado. His most recent adventure was as a volunteer Climbing Ranger and member of the Denali Rescue Team in Alaska.
Trenton Harper, Instructor
Critical Care Paramedic, WEMT; CCEMTP, ACLS (instructor), PALS (instructor), PHTLS (instructor), NRP, AWLS, TCCC, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Avalanche Level 1
Growing up in the mountains of West Virginia inspired my interest in the natural world and the traditional skills of land-based peoples. I practiced and taught wilderness survival skills as an outdoor educator for 5 years before moving to Montana in 2001. Since then I have worked as a paramedic-ranger for the National Park Service in Yellowstone National Park, volunteered with Missoula Search and Rescue, and have provided medical relief in Haiti and along the US/Mexico border. I have been privileged to travel and practice my medical and survival skills in Central America, India, and most recently Mongolia. I am a full time paramedic for Missoula Emergency Services where I have served as a tactical paramedic and Backcountry Response Team member. I teach all level of courses for Aerie including our WEMT and Semester in Wilderness Medicine programs.
Cody Harris, Instructor
EMT, Rescue III International Swiftwater Rescue Instructor
Cody is a past member of the U.S. Canoe and Kayak Development Team. Cody teaches WFR and WFA courses and the swiftwater component of our WEMT classes. He has spent the better portion of his life exploring the rivers of North and South America. Cody has been a kayak slalom coach and an American Canoe Association whitewater instructor since 1994. Currently, he is pursuing a seasonal lifestyle as a ski patroller at Montana Snowbowl and river guide at Montana River Guides . Cody is an avid follower of water--either frozen or flowing.
Amelia Jaffe, Instructor
BS Spanish and Psychology, UW- Madison; MS Nursing, Rush University; RN; ACLS; PALS; TNCC
Originally from outside St Paul, Minnesota, I now spend my days exploring the mountains of Colorado. I am an emergency room RN by trade, but believe knowing how to heal people without the luxury of resources is the most inspiring form of medicine I have learned. I feel very fortunate to help spread this knowledge as an incredible way to empower people to spend more time outdoors. Outside of medicine, I spend a great deal of time exploring the outdoors, crafting things from wood and various salvaged materials, fixing and riding bicycles, and searching for my next opportunity to return Central America.
Mike Johnston, Adjunct Instructor
EMT; Swiftwater Rescue Instructor for Rescue 3 International
Mike has been teaching River Rescue since 1995. Mike is an incredibly skilled instructor and one of the funnier people you will ever meet. He is a former ski patroller & backcountry ranger in Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. In 1994 he founded Montana River Guides, a whitewater rafting company that guides raft, canoe, kayak and riverboard trips on the Alberton Gorge, Blackfoot and Bitterroot Rivers. Mike teaches the swiftwater rescue component of Aerie's Wilderness EMT and combination courses.
MD, FACEP, FAWM
Mike Kremkau first got his EMT in 1995 in Colorado and taught mountaineering for Art of Adventure. He went on to work on a transport ambulance in Portland Oregon and was a resident firefighter/EMT for Tualatin Valley Fire and Rescue. Dr Kremkau trained in Emergency Medicine at Oregon Health and Sciences University. He has worked overseas in Honduras and in Kosovo on disaster relief missions and is a veteran of the National Disaster Medical Service. He now lives and works in Missoula Montana as an Emergency Physician at Saint Patrick Hospital (Level II Trauma) and is a reserve Deputy for Missoula County Sheriff Department. He is a member of and medical director for Missoula County Search and Rescue and Missoula County Sheriff Department Special Response Team. Dr Kremkau recently helped author the curriculum for S.T.O.R.M. (Specialized Tactics for Operational Rescue and Medicine) and will be teaching this through the Medical College of Georgia.
Nick Lois, Instructor
PA-S, ACLS, WEMT, Level 1 Avalanche
I am originally from Madison, Wisconsin and received my B.S. from the University of Wisconsin (Before you ask, yes, I do really love cheese. It's not just a food- It’s a lifestyle). I then moved to Bozeman, Montana where I worked in the emergency room, ski patrolled at Big Sky Resort, and helped teach people with disabilities how to ski through the Eagle Mount Adaptive Ski Program. In the summertime, I worked down in South America for an adventure tourism company. I have since recently moved to California where I go to PA school at Stanford University and humiliate myself on a regular basis improving my surfing. Some of my other hobbies and interests include skiing, reading, riding bikes, traveling, climbing, sailing, and cooking/eating.
Kelli Lutz, Instructor
W-EMT; EMT; Avalanche Level-1; Leave No Trace (LNT) Trainer: Outdoor Leadership, Central Oregon Community College; Parks & Tourism, University of Montana
Originally from New Hampshire, and having lived all over the US since then, I grew up playing in the outdoors. I moved to Missoula, Montana from central Oregon 2 years ago to finish my degree in Outdoor Education and Parks and Tourism. After graduating I decided to call Montana home. I began my wilderness career after taking a first aid class my freshman year in college. My love of the outdoors, medicine, and working with others led me to expand my training and receive my EMT and Wilderness EMT through the National Outdoor Leadership School. Since then I have guided Whitewater Rafting, Kayaking, backpacking, and most recently guiding Ice Cave Glacier tours and canoe trips in Juneau, Alaska. When I am not instructing with Aerie or guiding trips in the backcountry, you’ll find me enjoying the outdoors while snowmobiling, hunting, skiing, and backpacking. I enjoy the improvisation and creativity needed in wilderness medicine and it has been an honor to be able to share that with others to help them learn.
Amy Mazzarisi, Instructor
RN, Critical Care Paramedic, MSW-University of Michigan
I grew up back east and like so many of us, I was often found outdoors. When I discovered the mountains of the west my love of the outdoors exponentially expanded. I was fortunate to take an Aerie class in 2001, and have never looked back. I have been able to build a life with jobs that allowed opportunities to live out some dreams including working for the park service as a paramedic. I discovered the joy of teaching for both prehospital and hospital providers. I absolutely adore Aerie students! I have continued along a path into nursing where I am part of a critical care float pool on the emergency and intensive care settings.
Dara McDevitt, Instructor
WEMT; Swiftwater Rescue technician, Avalanche Level 1, BS from University of Montana in Resource Conservation (May 2014)
Dara grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and spent her childhood summers living in Yellowstone National Park. Through time she spent in both place, she developed a love for being outside and eventually, an interest in working for the National Park Service. She has worked in Yellowstone as a bear biologist and as part of their EMS team. Additionally, she worked in Yosemite as a backcountry ranger intern, providing medical services and working with the YOSAR team.
Dara has a degree from University of Montana in Resource Conservation. She has been involved with Aerie since 2012. Outside of wilderness medicine and environmental science, she has deep-seated enthusiasm for making her own gear. She has worked for manufacturing companies in Montana sewing bags. Dara sewed for Mystery Ranch Backpacks. Currently, she works for Goertzen Adventure Equipment. In January 2017, she began building the Aerie first aid kit bags.
When she's not teaching for Aerie or at her sewing machine, you can find her riding bikes or running on trails in Missoula and dreaming about the desert.
David McEvoy, Director
Critical Care Paramedic; BA, Bates College; MS, Biology, University of Montana.
I have worked outdoors since 1983 with organizations such as the Student Conservation Association, the Green Mountain Club, the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, the US Forest Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. I began working as an EMT in Missoula, Montana, and then completed a Paramedic program there in 1991. I've worked continuously as a medic at Missoula Emergency Services since then, serving as their Training Officer and Director of the Education Department. As a Biology graduate student at the University of Montana, I taught anatomy and physiology in the cadaver lab and have been taking EMT, paramedic and Aerie students there since that time. I love traveling and have lived for different extended periods in Israel, India/ Nepal/ Tibet and Central America. I love hunting, fishing, hiking and anything else that gets me outdoors, particularly if I can share it with my two daughters and my wife. I started Aerie in 1995 with two fellow medics and believed then, as now, that providing medical care and teaching others to do so is both a privilege and a responsibility. I consider myself very lucky to do what I love in some of the most beautiful places in the world.
Ryan Milling, Instructor
WEMT, Professional Level 2 Avalanche Cert, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Rope Rescue Technician, LNT Master Educator, Bachelors of Science in Wildlife Biology, University of Montana
I moved to Montana in 2012 to chase snow and finish my degree at the University of Montana. In 2014 I took a WEMT class through Aerie and was hooked. Teaching for Aerie combines my passion for medicine, wild spaces, and outdoor education. Since moving to Montana I have pursued these passions by leading extended wilderness courses for the National Outdoor Leadership School, serving as an EMT on the volunteer ambulance in Stanley, ID, guiding commercially on the Middle and Main Salmon River in the Frank Church Wilderness, and as a Ski Patroller and Avalanche Educator. Most years I spend well over 100 days working in the outdoors, and I bring this perspective to the courses I teach. Sometimes help is far away, and decision making in the backcountry is a skill that needs intentional practice.
not teaching or guiding, I enjoy the many public lands the West has to
offer, either by ski touring, climbing, mountain biking, or paddling.
Greg Moore, Medical Director
MD; FACEP; FAWM
Greg Moore is a leader in Montana's Emergency Medical field. Greg grew up in Tennessee exploring the flora and fauna of the Great Smokey Mountains. He completed Medical School at Ohio State University and did a dual residency in Emergency Medicine and Family Practice He has practiced as a Board Certified Emergency Room Physician for over 30 years. He now serves as Barrett Hospital's Chief of Staff and Director of their Emergency Department in addition to Medical Director for Saint Patrick Hospital Rural Outreach. He is Fellowship trained in Emergency Medicine and also was among the first Fellows in Wilderness Medicine. Greg is very active in EMS serving as Medical Director for Missoula Emergency Services Ambulance, Missoula Rural Fire Department, Missoula County Airport Authority, Powell County QRU, Beaverhead EMS, Beaverhead Search and Rescue and Wisdom Ambulance. Greg is actively involved in teaching and instructing all levels of medical professionals and is passionate about Wilderness Medicine and instructs Advanced Wilderness Life Support. Greg is an avid outdoorsman who loves to hike, hunt, ski, snow machine, raft, fish, dive and travel.
Valerie Moody, Instructor
PhD, ATC, LAT, CSCS, WEMT
Valerie teaches at the University of Montana in the Department of Health and Human Performance. She has been a certified athletic trainer for 11 years and is also certified as a strength and conditioning specialist. She has worked in a variety of settings including an orthopedic physician’s clinic, physical therapy clinic, hospital, high school, and college. Valerie enjoys most outdoor activities, especially snowboarding, running, hiking/climbing, and fishing.
Niqole Morris, Instructor
Advanced EMT, WEMT, B.A. Sociology-Criminology, Certification in Forensic Sciences, Swiftwater Rescue, Hazmat Technician
I grew up in Portland, OR which is where my love for being outside began. I moved to Missoula in 2006 to attend the University of MT and to be closer to my family in Kalispell. In the summers I did a lot of golfing, hiking, volleyball and wildland firefighting. I began volunteering with Missoula Rural Fire Department and would later become a resident as well. Upon graduating from the university, I chose to stray from my law school career path. Leading me to take my WEMT course from Aerie in 2010 and began my journey in the medical field, which I continue to broaden and expand. I absolutely love helping others, patient care, and being an instructor. When I'm not at work in the emergency department, I love being outdoors, traveling the world, camping, fishing, windsurfing, running (recently delving into the ultra-marathon world), cooking, watching football, and of course stargazing with s'mores.
Ted Morrison, Instructor
RN, BSN, WEMT-A; MS
Originally from Oregon, I moved to Missoula to attend the University of Montana and explore the mountains of Montana. I took my first Wilderness First Responder course with Aerie in 1999 to feel more confident in my backcountry adventures. This experience lead me to working in outdoor education for organizations such as Outward Bound and the Wild Rockies Field Institute. In 2006 I completed my EMT and began instructing courses for Aerie. I have instructed courses across the US and internationally. In addition to instructing I helped to develop Aerie's New Staff Training and Instructor Mentoring program. I have continued my medical education at to become a Registered Nurse. I currently work at Saint Patrick Hospital as a cardiac nurse. My favorite thing about wilderness medicine is not only developing the skills to treat patients, but the mindset and judgement to problem solve and stay safe in the backcountry. Even in the sterile halls of the hospital I find myself using the skills and mindset that I developed through wilderness medicine to help overcome challenging situations. I continue to live in Missoula with my wife and two sons. I enjoy long trail runs, alpine climbing, and backcountry skiing.
Eric Mullen, Instructor
EMT, OEC, Swiftwater rescue technician, SSI Autonomous diver, STCW offshore basic safety, BA environmental studies University of Montana
Growing up surfing and sailing on the wind swept island of Nantucket Massachusetts instilled a deep connection with community, culture and our landscape. A passion for adventure and other cultures have taken Eric around the world. Eric has spent time traveling and working as a photographer, engineer and EMT/diver on several deep ocean explorations around the world involved in sea floor mapping and ship wreck search and salvage operations. Eric also spends his winters as a full time Pro Ski Patroller at Bridger Bowl where he is based between adventures in Bozeman Montana. After moving to Montana in 2003 to finish an undergrad degree in environmental studies Eric obtained his WEMT with Aerie in the pursuit of bigger adventures and continues to explore the world.
Chris O'Brien, Instructor
WEMT; EMT Instructor, Idaho EMS; MS Natural Resources, University of Idaho; BS, Elmira College
Born and raised in Massachusetts, I now call the Pacific Northwest home. Immersed in the outdoors of New England as a kid, I began my professional career as a Park Ranger on Boston Harbor Islands National Recreation Area. After 3 years, I took my first WEMT course and spent the next few years living the nomadic existence of a trail dog across the West. I am currently a Lead Firefighter and the EMS Lead with Boise BLM Helitack having worked on fire crews in ID, OR, and CO prior. I'm also currently a candidate for the Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and a volunteer EMT for a department in Olympia, WA. My favorite hobbies are trail running, backpacking, volunteer trail work, and tinkering on my adventure van.
Tim O'Hara, Instructor
BS, Cornell University; WFR
I am the founder, owner and director of Rancho Mastatal Sustainability Center in rural Costa Rica where I oversee an array of initiatives related to natural building, permaculture, community development and health and rainforest conservation. I grew up in upstate NY where I played competitive lacrosse and football and obtained a degree in agricultural economics from Cornell University. I met my wife Robin Nunes while an ecoagribusiness volunteer in the US Peace Corps in Uruguay. We then moved to Seattle where we spent much of our free time skiing, hiking and whitewater kayaking.Our adventures led us to Central America in 2001 where we have managed our business in our small agrarian town since. Our site has unintentionally become a default medical clinic in the village.We have a bilingual and adventurous daughter named Soledad and spend most of our days outside working on the farm and teaching guests about their sustainability practices.
Josh Olsen, Instructor / Hiring And Staff Training Manager
WEMT, Avalanche II, Swiftwater rescue technician, OEC, BA St. Olaf College, M.Ed University of MT
I am a native Montanan and have worked as an educator in many capacities from instructing kayaking and climbing to teaching English in Tanzania, Africa. In addition to instructing for Aerie, I am the Co-founder and Program Director of the Montana Wilderness School based in Bozeman. During the winter season, I work as a Pro Patroller and avalanche rescue dog handler with my dog Numa in Southwestern Montana. I am a member of the Gallatin County Search and Rescue hasty avalanche response team. I am a former wilderness instructor for an “at- risk” youth program and worked for many years as a professional sea kayak guide and as a climbing guide. In addition to trying really hard to only work outside I gained valuable experience working as an ER tech and as an EMT for multiple rural ambulance companies servicing wilderness areas. I live in Bozeman with my wife Bina.
What I love about Aerie’s approach to teaching Wilderness medicine is the commitment to scenario based learning, helping to bridge the gap between education and experience.
Eddie Olwell, Instructor
WEMT; B.S., Economics, LeMoyne College; Level I Avalanche; Swiftwater First Responder
I have been involved with Aerie since 1999 when I took a WFR course for my guide and outfitting business. The course had a big impact on me and several months later I took the Aerie WEMT class. Having the WEMT certification helped me land a job on Lost Trail ski patrol and then as an instructor for Aerie. Patrolling and instructing for Aerie compliment each other very well. Teaching keeps my skills fresh for patrolling and the patient care I do on the ski hill is very relevant to what we teach at Aerie. When I am not skiing or teaching I can be found pursuing my other passion , fly fishing on Montana's great trout rivers. I own and operate Fishs Eddy O Fly Fishing Outfiiter and Guide Service, specializing in guided fly fishing trips on the Bitterroot and other western Montana rivers. Fly fishing has taken me across North America, to the south island of New Zealand, the Patagonia region of Chile and who knows where in the future.
Shantanu Pandit, Instructor
I grew up in a suburb of Mumbai, India, and today live in another which is surrounded by thick woods which have a couple of bouldering sites. I've been hiking & rock climbing since college days, and have been part of a few peak climbing expeditions in the Himalaya. From 2000 until 2013, I was a NOLS instructor, working a couple of courses per year. I have also run an adventure travel company, which gave me a chance to visit various Himalayan regions! Since 2000 I have been facilitating outdoor management development programs for business organizations and now also offer consultancy to outdoor & experiential education organisations in areas like programme content, risk management and staff training. With the purpose of enhancing safe practices in the outdoors in India, a few of us in Mumbai have started some initiatives in the form of training platforms, forums for increasing public awareness and appropriate interaction with government authorities. In my spare time, I try photography and sketching – have illustrated a book in the past!
Doug Petch, Instructor
Nationally Registered and Montana licensed Paramedic, WEMT, AWLS
After retiring from a career in the United States Army, my love of backpacking led me to take a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) class. That class sparked an interest in wilderness medicine that resulted in me become a Paramedic specializing in wilderness, expedition and remote area medicine. I currently live with my wife Beth and our Black Lab Gunner in NW Montana where I work as Clinical Coordinator and Instructor for the Flathead Valley Community College Paramedic Program and serve as Team Paramedic for the Flathead County Search and Rescue Team.
In my free time, I enjoy snowshoeing in the winter and kayaking and backpacking the rest of the year. Otherwise I can be found helping care for our 2 Percheron draft horses and cutting the firewood we use to heat our house.
Damien Powledge, Instructor
BLS, ACLS, ATLS, PA-C, Level I Avalanche
I originally grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwestern Virginia, but have called Montana home since 2002. The field of Geology was my initial career path, until an Aerie WFR course in 2004 promptly derailed that trajectory my final semester of college. My initial exposure to working in wilderness medicine was as a senior wilderness therapy instructor, a job which I loved for several years. In 2009, I obtained my Wilderness EMT, and continued various outdoor jobs. I eventually dove deeper into medicine, working at both hospitals in Missoula as an ER Tech EMT, while teaching for Aerie and working in tissue/organ recovery. I was then fortunate to attend the University of Washington School of Medicine MEDEX Physician Assistant program, graduating in 2014. Upon graduation, I practiced Family Medicine/Urgent Care, in addition to working with Trauma Services at St Patrick Hospital. Most recently, I have transitioned to working in Neurosurgery full-time, a position which fortunately also allows me to remain closely involved with the St. Pats Trauma team and Emergency Department. In my free time, you can find me somewhere outside - trail running, climbing, skiing, goofing off in the forests of Montana, often with my wife Megan and young son Brooks.
James Pyke, Instructor
James Pyke, W-EMT, MT EMT Lead Instructor, Avalanche Level 2, High Angle Rope Rescue for Ski Patrol
I am originally from New England and moved to Montana in 2004 in pursuit of bigger mountains and lighter snow. I took a W-EMT class with Aerie Medicine to bolster my backcountry skills and found I had a passion for rescue and emergency medicine. I worked professionally as a ski patroller at Montana Snowbowl for four years before moving to Bozeman where I took a job at the Yellowstone Club in Big Sky. I am currently a senior patroller at the Yellowstone Club and lead the medical department for our patrol. I teach all summer for Aerie, primarily coordinating and instructing the Summer Semester class in Montana.
In my free time I enjoy backcountry skiing and race in ski mountaineering races around the state. In the summer I spend my time running long distances all over the mountain west both in organized ultramarathon races and in self supported efforts. More than anything I enjoy traveling quickly and efficiently in the mountains and teaching others about backcountry travel, preparedness and rescue.
Roman Sanchez, Instructor
WEMT; Swiftwater First Responder; Level 1 Avalanche
Roman works for the Indian Peaks rural fire district as a firefighter and EMT/SAR member. He is also an active ski-patroller. Roman is an outstanding educator, with teaching experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras, a Master's in Teaching English as a 2nd Language, and years teaching in a bilingual elementary education program. Roman volunteers with the Buffalo Field Campaign in the Yellowstone area. His hobbies include camping, x-country skiing and snowboarding. Roman lives with his wife Justine and son Japhy at 9200ft in an off-grid strawbale home in the mountains of Colorado.
Joan Scheffer, Instructor
R.N. WEMT- B
Joan is a 4th generation Montanan who loves the outdoors and has a particular interest in all horse related activity. She has competed in endurance riding and competitive trail riding. She is a certified registered nurse first assistant (CRNFA) who specializes in orthopedic surgical procedures and care at Missoula Bone and Joint Surgery Center . Joan also likes to mountain bike, hike, and cross country ski whenever she isn't out riding. Joan volunteers a great deal of her time with children at a therapeutic riding program.
Adam Scheletsky, Instructor
Adam received his WEMT from Aerie several years ago and has continued to make the most of it. He currently ski patrols at Moonlight Basin in Big Sky and is an outdoor instructor for teenagers in the backcountry during the summer. Adam has rappelled from the buildings of New York City as a rope access technician, and recently rode his bicycle down the west coast. His next adventure by bike is the Continental Divide mountain bike tour from Canada to Mexico, as well as spending enough time in one place to harvest the garden he planted in the spring. Adam is currently taking prerequisites for medical school at MSU, and might actually go if life stops getting in the way!
Akshay Shah, Instructor
An entrepreneur by nature started a company called Panache Associates in Baroda laying oil and gas pipelines in Gujarat. The wanderer in him could not hold him there long and his childhood passion for the outdoors lured him back to his roots – the foothills of the Himalaya. Thus Himalayan Wanderers Pvt. Ltd., an adventure holidays outfit, was born. He has led various adventure camps and trekking expeditions for students, corporates & foreigners and has worked as an Out Bound Trainer for corporates.
Natural sciences are his love and he has a good knowledge of animals, birds, bees, wild flowers, trees and herbs of the region. Currently he is the Director of Lok Chetna Manch, the oldest NGO of Kumaon established in 1982 under the guidance of Sarla Ben (Catherine Mary Heilman, the legendary Gandhian), besides being a Member of the Governing Board of Kumaon Community College, another NGO working in the Kumaon Hills primarily for vocational trainings. His initiative to save the dying Steppe Eagles in Ranikhet brought fruitful results and managed to successfully save 22 Eagles in January 2006. His contribution in the implementation of Solid Waste Management Programmes is quite significant and has a good authority over the issue. He was the Project Director of “Mission Butterfly” an Integrated Solid Waste Management Programme for the Lake Areas of Nainital for the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF), Government of India. He helped conceptualise & design the whole project and ran it successfully for 4 ½ years which was nominated for the National Award by the MoEF and the President’s Award by the Urban Development Directorate. The model has been adopted for 31 more town & cities of Uttarakhand by ADB.
A regular trekker, he is closely involved with NOLS India Chapter, giving slide shows and talks on environment. He is a certified Wilderness First Responder and a certified WFA Instructor for Aerie Backcountry Medicine, Missoula, Montana, USA.
He has been training people from Indian Administrative Services (IAS), (IPS), Provincial Civil Services (PCS) & Urban Local Bodies as a visiting faculty at Uttarakhand Academy of Administration, Nainital, since the last 7 years.
He is also a keen photographer, mainly landscapes, nature and wildlife whose photographs have been published in Coffee Table Books, Calendars & Brochures, Cards and used on the web.He is actively involved in raising awareness towards conservation of flora and fauna through slide shows amongst masses. His keen interest towards conservation of the Himalayan Ecology has given him an identity of an Environmental Educator.
Steve Shepro, Instructor
PA-C; Paramedic; WEMT; Swiftwater Rescue Technician; Level-I Avalanche; BS, Paramedicine; MCHS, University of Washington
I began teaching for Aerie in 1999 after completing my W-EMT in Glacier NP. My interest in emergency medicine began while volunteering with the Western Montana Mountain Rescue Team where I later became the president and training coordinator. I also volunteered with Missoula County SAR, the National Ski Patrol, and co-founded the Idaho AED Initiative. I am a former guide with Mt. Rainier Alpine Guides and International Mountain Guides, worked as an EMT/ Swiftwater Rescue Technician for the Whitewater Rescue Institute. I worked as an EMT on the ambulance with Missoula Emergency Services and Madison Fire Department, then as a Paramedic/ ER Tech at Teton Valley Hospital. After graduating PA School at University of Washington’s MEDEX Northwest, my wife and I moved back to Missoula where I work as a PA in the Structural Heart Program at the International Heart Institute. We are excited new parents of an energetic little boy and love to ski, bike, climb, hike, and float the river together.
Our students constantly inspire me to continue learning. In turn, I hope that we can inspire our students to learn about medicine and the outdoors, and empower them to help others who are in need.
Amy Shuler, Instructor
WEMT, Paramedic, BA Spanish K-12 Education (Montana State University)
A native Montanan, I now live and work in Bozeman as a Paramedic and have been teaching for Aerie since 2013. Experiences past or present that have served me well as an instructor of wilderness medicine include volunteering for the local Search and Rescue team, teaching middle school Spanish, serving as a rescue K9 handler, and working for Bozeman's increasingly busy 911 system. When not at work, I can usually be found exploring the outdoors with my two pups Finn and Roka, finding any excuse to plop myself in front of a fire or in a hammock with a good book, or stuffing my face with a mean plate of nachos. I would consider myself a zen outdoor enthusiast: jack of all trades, master of none. Current tinkerings include figuring out how to ride a mountain bike uphill without stopping, skijoring with my dogs without becoming a tangled ball of rope, snow, and fur, and becoming a stronger and more confident climber.
An Aerie Wilderness First Responder course was my first glimpse into emergency medicine and has proved to be the gateway to a rewarding, inspiring, and humbling pursuit. Now as an instructor, sharing my experience and training with others as a part of the forward movement of knowledge and empowerment brings me great joy.
Josh Tapp, Instructor
WEMT, Level - II Avalanche, B.A.,Political Science, University of South Carolina
The things I enjoy most are almost always mountain related activities. Be it climbing in the desert of Utah, skiing my favorite powder stashes, or fly fishing in one of Montana's beautiful rivers, my life revolves around being outside. As a guide for IMG one of the most enjoyable experiences I get is watching people experience the mountains for the first time. Being a guide, I have the chance to help people achieve their goals and have experiences that are always out of their comfort zones. To add to this, I have found a passion for wilderness medicine. Being an Aerie Instructor seemed to be the next step as I pursue a career in the mountains. I have been involved in many search and rescues, and I enjoy teaching others the systematic approach to being a first responder in a wilderness environment. I hope that you as a student can learn from my good and bad judgement, so that you someday will know how to handle an emergency if need be.
Ellie Thompson, Instructor
I always wanted Montana to be home. It had the mountains, all four seasons, great people, and amazing opportunity. I moved to Montana after I finished my undergrad at Hamilton College, outside Syracuse, NY. I decided to move out to Montana 10 years ago to maximize mountain exploring, and basically be a ski ‘bum’. In the summers I wandered around the Wind River mountains in Wyoming for the National Outdoor Leadership School for 5 years. After awhile, I decided to settle down a bit, and I started to apply my psychology degree as a field instructor with Three Rivers Wilderness Therapy in Belgrade, MT. For the past 7 years I’ve ski patrolled at Moonlight Basin in Southwest Montana, and spent a season ski patrolling on the south island of New Zealand at Lake Ohau. Avalanche rescue became a passion as well, and I trained my dog, Chica, to work on the ski hill with me as an avalanche rescue dog. I loved the aspect of having to make sound decisions in stressful situations so much that I began to teach wilderness medicine for Aerie Backcountry Medicine, and working part-time for American Medical Response in Bozeman, MT. I continue to incorporate emergency medicine into my life, and get out in the mountains skiing, rockclimbing, and mountain biking as much as possible!!
Liz Vogel, Instructor
RN Student, WFR, BS in biology, LNT Master Educator
I grew up in the wilds of SE Pennsylvania and found myself adventuring on the AT, Adirondacks, in the red rock of Utah, and the redwood canyons of CA, before finally settling down in NH. I have a BS in Biology and as a Program Director for the Student Conservation Association (SCA) I help to build the next generation of conservation stewards while ensuring they are prepared for whatever challenges they may find themselves in. I am a WFR, LNT Master Educator, Doula-in-Training, avid world traveler and connoisseur of all outdoor playtime pursuits. These days you can find me barefoot in my big garden with my 11-month old daughter playing in the dirt beside me.
Becca Wallace, Instructor
WEMT; Paramedic: Associate of Applied Science Degree- University of Montana, Avalanche level I, Swiftwater Rescue Technician, Hazardous Waste Operator for Emergency Responders (HAZWOPER), Rope Rescue Technician I/II
Montana has always been home to Becca. Growing up between the Blackfoot river and the Scapegoat Wilderness she has an inate love and appreciation for the wild areas that surround us. Her experiences caring for family and friends in this rural environment led her to an early start in her medical career.
While working as a medical assisted at a local family practice clinic Becca obtained her EMT in 2000 and started work at Missoula Emergency Services. There she was an active member of their education program and completed her training as a Paramedic. She was an integral part to the formation and operations of the Backcountry Emergency Response Team. Eventually becoming a member of Missoula County Search and Rescue where she continues to volunteer.
Her experience and interest in education brought her to Aerie in 2006 where she continues to be one of our lead instructors. She also trains and instructs with the Whitewater Rescue Institute. In the summer Becca works as a line paramedic for wildland fire.
her down time she can be found on the river either for a quick day of
whitewater or weeks floating through some of her favorite canyons. Other
hobbies include skiing, skydiving, hunting, fishing, backpacking and
snuggling with furry friends.
Emily Weiler, EMT Exam Coordinator
WEMT, Lead Instructor, BS. Chemistry at University of MT, National Allergy Bureau Pollen Counter
Emily has lived in Missoula, MT since she was 4 years old and gained a love for the outdoors by adventuring with her big sister in the mountains and forests of Big Sky country. She loves to ski, run and canoe and just got her first taste of alpine racing. She loves travel and has explored both North and South America, and will soon add China and Europe to the list. After taking a WEMT class in the fall of 2013, she now coordinates EMT exams and looks forward to instructing in the future. When she’s not working for Aerie she can be found in her laboratory on campus, studying respiratory diseases and putting her Chemistry degree to good use. And those pollen reports you see on the news? Those are from her! The only certified pollen counter in the state of MT!
Fred Westereng, Instructor
I’m a Physician Assistant for Providence Medical Group working in Urgent Care. I’ve also worked in Family Medicine. I got my WEMT in 2005 with Aerie. I worked as an EMT for Missoula Emergency Services from 2006-2008. I've traveled extensively to Central America on medical missions with Missoula Medical Aid. I enjoy hunting with my two dogs, Gus and Bella.
Rachael Wilson, Instructor
I was born and raised in Tennessee. I have always been a fan of the outdoors, biking (in all its forms), mountains, hiking, traveling, etc, but growing up, I never had a clear career path. I graduated with a Bachelors in Multi-Disciplinary Studies in Tennessee and then decided to switch things up and began working for a helicopter company in Skagway, AK for the next several years. I became a glacier guide which required me to have medical training. I took a WFR and fell in love with emergency medicine. Soon after, I decided to take a WEMT course with Aerie. I realized that I had found my next adventure and knew I would be back to Montana one day. I worked in Alaska as a guide and WEMT for the next couple years before I returned to Missoula to start teaching with Aerie. In Missoula, I worked for the ambulance service, MESI, for a time which introduced me to front country medicine. Now I teach full time with Aerie. The combination of medicine, teaching, and the outdoors has been the perfect fit for my life and I love what I do!
Justin Woods, Instructor
Paramedic, Swiftwater Rescue Technician
Justin is a full-time, professional firefighter/ paramedic in Whitefish, Montana. Justin works as a raft guide in the summers. He spends as much of his spare time as possible in the backcountry skiing, ice & rock climbing, or kayaking in Montana and Alaska. Justin coordinates Aerie's courses in the Flathead Valley - Glacier National Park area.
Dave Zinn, Instructor
WEMT; EMT; OEC; Whitewater Rescue Technician; Graduate National Avalanche School; BA History, University of Oregon
I began learning about wilderness medicine to advance my guiding career with a Wilderness First Responder in the early 2000’s. Since then I have worked for whitewater kayaking programs in the North and South America, Africa, and Asia. Since permanently relocating to Southwest Montana I pursued my medical education further becoming a Wilderness EMT in 2009 and I began teaching for Aerie Backcountry Medicine in 2011.
Working with Aerie is a great experience and it allows me to train with a group of individuals who are truly passionate about emergency medical response and adventuring in beautiful places. I continue to learn new tricks from fellow instructors and the management at Aerie is excited to support the interests of their instructors. Most recently I have been working with a group to bring wilderness medical training to Tibetans working in tourism and guiding industries with programs in Montana and ethnically Tibetan regions of China. Soon we should have the Aerie Manual available in Mandarin!
While not teaching for Aerie Backcountry Medicine, I work seasonally from my home in Bozeman. I spend summers operating Wave Train Kayak Team, a small Bozeman, Montana based program that allows me to share my love of whitewater kayaking with 10 to 18-year-old participants. In the fall and winter, I transition into positions as the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center (GNFAC) and a full-time ski patroller at Bridger Bowl Ski Area.
In Memory Of Our Dear Friend
Adrienne arrived in Missoula in 1980 to attend the University of Montana, where she earned her Master’s degree in recreation management. During her early days in Missoula, Adrienne worked at the YWCA and for the Wellness Center, Campus Recreation and Human Resources within the University. Shortly after 2000, Adrienne found her “work family” when she accepted a position in the Department of Health and Human Performance. In her new position she laid the foundation for one of the most diverse activity class programs, which now offers more than 100 recreation sections each semester. Adrienne also brought her passion for life and active lifestyle to the program. In her free time she served as a ski instructor and Pro Patroller at Montana Snowbowl, was active in Missoula Freestyle and worked for Aerie Backcountry Medicine. As a Lead Instructor, Adrienne taught countless students in Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder and Wilderness EMT courses. Adrienne always lived life at warp speed and thoroughly enjoyed life. Her family and friends thought of her as an Italian Eveready bunny. Adrienne was the kind of person who excelled at everything she did and focused her sharp mind and endless energy on countless people and projects throughout the community, always with the goal of helping others succeed. On May 28, 2013 Adrienne passed away after a long, fierce fight against cancer. Adrienne was the captain of her ship right up to the end and will be remembered as a brave, kind soul graced with a quick wit. Adrienne will be missed by many but forgotten by none that knew her.