October 1, 2020

Letter from the Chair-Elect

Greetings everyone! Well, here we are, September 2020. It is hard to believe we are entering the fall season and only have several months until the start of a new year! I hope the summer treated everyone well and I know here in Georgia, we are welcoming the fall months with open arms. We finally kicked a bit of the humidity here and had a few crisp, cool fall days that did not disappoint. I think it is safe to say it has given everyone a literal ‘breath of fresh air’ here in the southeast. With that being said, I know many parts of our country have been in peril from hurricanes and flooding in the Gulf Coast to the fires ravaging California and the northeast. To say this has been a challenging year on all fronts would be an understatement. I was recently talking to a friend, another EM physician, who said something that really stood out to me; he said “with everything going on with Covid19 and the world, all I really had was the outdoors, and now this.” I think we can all agree that when something as devastating as the fires or the hurricanes touch our local wilderness or places we have visited and adventured and love so much; it hurts even more. We have continuously been keeping all of our colleagues and Wilderness Medicine Section members affected by this around the country and the globe in our thoughts and hope everyone has been able to stay safe during these challenging times. My parents always told me, “hard times make you stronger and build character;” and well, I think we all probably feel like we have enough character to last us for some time to come after this year!

I do hope all of our Wilderness Medicine Section members and everyone’s family, friends and colleagues have been trying to keep a strong life-work balance and getting outside if possible. We recently held our Wilderness Medicine Resident Day at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University for our Emergency Medicine Grand Rounds – while maintaining social distancing and following Covid19 guidelines, it was a great day outside, learning and exploring in our local wilderness. I had many of our EM residents say afterwards that just being outside and not in the chaos of the busy Emergency Department was a much-needed reprieve, especially amidst these stressful times. I challenge you to encourage your colleagues who may not be a member of the Wilderness Section or may not be “the outdoor type” to get outside when they can. It is amazing how it can help you not only from a physical standpoint, but perhaps more importantly how it can improve your mental and emotional space. We can call this challenge – LIVE YOUR LIFE FUEL! I encourage your post photos with the hashtags: #acep2020 #acepwildernessmedicinesection #liveyourlifefuel and see how many people we can get motivated this season!

I think many of us could argue that “playing outside” is more than just “playing outside.” Time spent outdoors has been linked to increased appreciation of our environment, our senses, awareness of ourselves and the world and those around us and has been linked to lower rates of emotional and mental illnesses, obesity and overall improvement in physical health. This is perhaps even more important in the year 2020 with all of the challenges it has presented. My niece said it more simply, “being outside just makes you feel better, it makes me happy.” I think she hit the nail on the head!

With that being said, I hope everyone has been motivated to think about a submission for the Wilderness Medicine Section Meeting at the Virtual ACEP 2020 meeting! We are trying to put a unique spin on the meeting this year and are very excited about it. I know I would love to see what our members have been up to in their local wilderness since travel has not been as accessible. I look forward to seeing your submissions to the annual photo contest and welcoming our new section leaders. Thank you for voting in our elections!

We really hope to “see” everyone virtually at the meeting next month! Stay safe, stay prepared, get to ‘playing outside’ and remember to #liveyourlifefuel and challenge those around you to do the same! Thank you and cheers everyone!

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