Even a quick conversation with Erin will reveal a journey filled with stories from an exciting and challenging career. Erin spent his childhood in Colorado, where he grew up with a general interest in the outdoors, spent time hiking, and became captivated with rock climbing. To add fuel to his passions, he headed to the Pacific Northwest to earn his undergraduate degree at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, where he majored in computer science. Erin also became involved in the university’s outdoor program, requiring him to obtain his WFA certification. So, in 2009 or 2010 he took a WFA course and the medicine hook was sunk. The very next year, being acutely aware of the limitations of a WFA, he then took a WFR course with WMA International. After graduation, Erin moved to Zion National Park, where he began working as a canyoneering and rock climbing guide for a local outfitter. 

Erin experienced a pivotal moment in his career when one day out on a trail in Zion he encountered a hiker who had dislocated his patella. Erin assisted the hiker back to the trailhead and handed him off to Search & Rescue. During the handoff, members of the SAR team encouraged Erin to join the volunteer SAR team. The invitation led to Erin heading to Denver during the off season to earn his EMT certification. When Erin returned to Zion the next year, he was white carded and began serving on the EMS squad run by the National Park Service. For eight years, Erin worked in Zion as a guide, EMT and member of the SAR team before he met two King County Paramedics in Washington state through BLS and ALS refresher courses. Intrigued by their approach to pre-hospital medicine and attracted by the pride they took in being professional paramedics, Erin eventually found his way to Washington to join them. For the past two years, Erin has worked as a paramedic with King County Medic 1, where he covers a busy metro area in Washington between Seattle and Tacoma, and sees a high number of ALS calls.   

Erin has been teaching with WMA International since he took the Instructor Training in September of 2019. Erin makes it a goal to enjoy every day. In his free time, he rock climbs as much as the Washington weather allows. He has also taken up winter sports again, and you can often find him splitboarding on the slopes. And when all else fails, Erin turns to running.


WMA: How do you aim to be effective as an Instructor? 

Erin: Successful instructors form a connection with each student, allowing them to understand and absorb the information easily. They are also able to recognize when it’s working and when it isn’t, and when it’s time to pivot. That is a strength of WMA – it really is a group of skilled educators who truly understand the subject matter intimately and have the skills to teach it effectively. 

WMA: What is your advice for a student who has just completed their first course? 

Erin: Spend a lot of time doing your own trips and the planning for them. For example: I’m going backpacking with another friend. We’re going hiking for a couple days. What would we do if she got a broken ankle here?….and you kind of run through the “what ifs,” i.e., What’s your exposure? What are you carrying with you?  What are your anticipated problems? How do you want to plan for those problems? Those are all key mental skills of an effective WFR. 

WMA: Do you think the skills taught by WMA International are applicable in other arenas? 

Erin: Absolutely. The principal skill we teach is critical thinking. It’s looking at “How do I solve a problem?” How do I break down a complex problem into a set of achievable steps? It’s also knowing what your limitations are, being able to plan, and being able to communicate. These are all massively important skills. For someone for whom that abstraction is beneficial…they can see it’s not just learning the patient assessment system, it’s learning how to gather information, synthesize it into a tangible list of actionables, and know what actions to take, if any. These skills apply in so many other fields.