April 28, 2021

Letter from the Chair

Greetings friends and colleagues! I can hardly believe we are moving briskly into the spring months of 2021. I am personally very happy to welcome warmer weather and more hours of sunlight in the day, but it sure is hard to believe how fast time flies. I suspect many of you have done some reflecting this year so far, as have I; and to think we are well over a year into the life-and-career-changing pandemic we now know as Covid19 is mindboggling. I want to congratulate each and every one of you reading our newsletter today for keeping your head high even when it was difficult and carrying on, continuing to put one foot in front of the other day after day; literally doing the best you could to support your patients and those around you professionally as well as personally. I believe it is important to recognize that we are all responsible for many roles simultaneously each day, not only as emergency medicine physicians, but also as spouses, partners, mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, friends, neighbors, pet-parents, plant-parents, and colleagues.

I hope the large majority of you, our amazing ACEP Wilderness Section members, have been able to naturally bring a positive and refreshing perspective of new ideas and activities to your family, friends and coworkers this year; being wilderness enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers during times of quarantine and lack of distant travel. We know that not much else is more important than a strong and well-managed work-life balance. All facets of Wilderness and Austere Medicine and all that embodies Our Section here at ACEP arguably carries more weight than some other sections… okay, okay, we might be biased, but I think we are on to something!

Our tenets are easily incorporated into many other sections at ACEP to include, but not limited to EMS, Telemedicine, Sports Medicine, Disaster, Pediatrics, Toxicology, Expedition Medicine, Cruise Medicine, Mental Health, Critical Care, Education, and perhaps one of the most important being Wellness, along with Diversity. The state of mental health of many of our colleagues in the field of emergency medicine has suffered tremendously this year and likely a large majority of them have remained silent. Please don’t be afraid to reach out to your friends, colleagues, acquaintances; check on them, invite them for a socially-distanced hike outside, share some great wilderness-related reading material, open their eyes to the “life fuel” that is usually right in front of us if we just open our eyes and minds. To say this pandemic forced us to adapt and be resilient and innovative would be modest; I think we truly had the opportunity to shine as a group of Wilderness Medicine professionals, educators and leaders.

As your cities, states, regions and the world all slowly start resuming this new version of ‘normal,’ I know we will continue to an ebb and flow in our opportunities to network, travel, collaborate and gather in both educational settings as well as personal settings. I will be the first to admit: I am guilty as I am anxious to travel more broadly and explore those areas that are a bit further away from my home and not in my community or region. I look forward to international travel (when deemed safe) and all that it imparts, especially in the realm of diversity and wellness; these two go hand-in-hand in my opinion.

I hope 2021 continues to bring us new experiences and opportunities for mental and physical wellness, as well as diverse growth in networking and education, and meaningful collaboration with each other. Please stay tuned for more information from our section! We are planning to have a virtual discussion and “hang out” session in the next couple of months to afford an opportunity to catch up since our very different, but successful, virtual meeting in October of last year. I really want to work for our section and see it grow and flourish while I’m serving as Chair. I would appreciate any feedback, ideas and/or goals from any and all of you. You can always email me at wilderness.medicine@acep.org. Let’s keep the momentum going and continue to motivate and lift each other up to become more successful together. I am also excited to say we are hopeful of some version of an in-person section meeting and reception at ACEP Boston, October 2021! We will relay more information as we receive it from ACEP and are also working on a possible preconference event if it can be done in a safe manner.

Continue to LIVE YOUR LIFE FUEL as we have carried as our section motto the last several years. Go ‘play outside,’ get some fresh air and sunshine (wear sunscreen though!) and as always, stay safe and be prepared. Continue to encourage and challenge those around you to do the same. Remember, time spent outdoors has been linked to increased appreciation of our environment, our senses, awareness of ourselves and the world around us and has been linked to lower rates of emotional and mental illnesses, obesity and overall improvement in physical health. This is legit. We need the wilderness and some people may just need us to remind them of that in these stressful times. Also, take note of the quotes attached to the photos provided in the Life Fuel section of the newsletter, they really carried quite a bit of meaning and depth when I read them; hopefully they will resonate with you too.

Thank you so much for reading this and for your time and involvement with our section. We would not be ‘us’ without each of YOU. My dogs, Lucha and Wilder are debuted once again, as they have been a solid and constant source of joy and calm for me the past year. They like to adventure and explore just as much as I do, so we have had plenty of backyard “life fuel” moments together. I thought I’d share a few with you here - please share yours with us as well on Instagram/Facebook, etc. with the hashtags below. We look forward to seeing them, thanks again!

#liveyourlifefuel
#acepwildernessmedicinesection
#acepwildernesssection
#acep2021

Be well, keep safe, continue the lifelong adventure and stay awesome everyone!

Cheers,
Taylor Haston, DO, FACEP, MPH, MBS, DiMM