Dr. Seth Collings Hawkins is an American anthropologist, writer, and wilderness, EMS, and emergency physician.
He received his undergraduate degree in anthropology at Yale University. He completed his medical degree at UNC-Chapel Hill and his emergency medicine residency training at the University of Pittsburgh. He is one of only a few American physicians holding dual board certification in both emergency medicine and EMS, and has worked for over twenty years in wilderness medicine and out-of-hospital emergency medical care.
He is the Executive Editor of Wilderness Medicine magazine and the founder of the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine, the first non-profit wilderness medicine organization of its kind. He is the medical director for Burke EMS (which includes the first EMS-based wilderness rescue team in North Carolina, serving the deepest gorge in the eastern United States), Landmark Learning, Western Piedmont Community College, Starfish Aquatics Institute, and the NC State Park system. He is the medical advisor for the North Carolina Outdoor Bound School and REI. He is also the co-founder and course director of the Wilderness EMS Medical Director Course, the Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship, and is the founder and current Chief of the Appalachian Mountain Rescue Team, the first Mountain Rescue Association-endorsed rescue team in NC. He is co-founder and co-owner of Vertical Medicine Resource, a company pioneering the concept of medical guide services in the climbing and mountaineering world, and is the founder and owner of Hawk Ventures.
Hawkins was in the first cohort of providers awarded Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine in 2007. In 2014, he became the first physician ever awarded the degree of Master Fellow by this Academy. He is also a Fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians, the Academy of EMS, and the Society for Applied Anthropology. He has been awarded the Excellence in Emergency Medicine Award by the Society of Academic Emergency Medicine and the Technical Excellence Award by the Orange Technical Rescue Team (2000), the University of Pittsburgh Ron Stewart Excellence in Teaching Award (2003), and has been named the Yalie of the Week by Yale Alumni Magazine and a Hero of Emergency Medicine by the American College of Emergency Physicians (2008). In 2009 he received the international WMS-BALL Wilderness Medicine Award, “honoring an extraordinary person who represents the example of excellence and adventure, with a distinguished record of public service in wilderness medicine, outdoor health and safety”. He was named one of the Top Ten EMS Innovators of 2011 by the Journal of EMS. In 2014, he received the Mountain Laurel Award from the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine, their lifetime achievement award for contributions to wilderness medicine in the southern Appalachian region of the United States.
He has published widely in scientific publications and popular press on wilderness medicine and wilderness EMS, as well as being a published and award-winning poet and creative writer. He is the lead author of two major medical texts: Vertical Aid, a climbing medicine text (The Countryman Press, 2017), and Wilderness EMS, an EMS textbook (Wolters Kluwer, 2018).
When indoors, Dr. Hawkins is a full-time clinical emergency physician at Catawba Valley Medical Center in North Carolina and an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Wake Forest University.
With experience as a ground search and high-angle rope technician for SAR teams in Virginia and Kentucky, David currently works as a Paramedic for Powell County Ambulance Service, deploys to austere environments as a member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Incident Response Coordination Team, teaches disaster medical and incident command concepts at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Domestic Preparedness, and is a full-time Lecturer in Eastern Kentucky University’s baccalaureate Emergency Medical Care program. When school's not in session at EKU, he teaches EMT courses at Landmark Learning in Cullowhee, NC.
Also a Kentucky Division of Emergency Management (KYEM) Level II Technical Rope Rescue Technician, David is the Chair of the KYEM Search and Rescue Advisory Committee’s Subcommittee on Wilderness Medicine. He also serves on the Education Committee and Protocol Working Group of the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services. A member of the Wilderness Medical Society, he is pursuing their Fellowship in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine.
A member of the Board of Advisors of the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine who teaches and speaks throughout the Southeast, he owns RedMed, LLC, which provides on-site medical services for wilderness endurance events throughout the Southeast.
David also coordinates the RedSTAR wilderness EMS unit serving Kentucky's Red River Gorge.