The Hurricane Island Foundation announced that its Wilderness and Rural Medicine Conference will be held Sept. 23 and Sept. 24 on Hurricane Island in West Penobscot Bay.

The goal of the conference is to connect basic and advanced primary care and emergency medical providers who practice in remote environments, including wilderness and remote rural areas from the western mountains to the islands of the coast of Maine. The conference and associated trainings have been funded by a grant from the Davis Family Foundation.

The Hurricane Island Wilderness and Rural Medicine Institute addresses the need for direct training and support of EMTs and advanced level medical providers who work in isolated environments. Hurricane’s rugged offshore environment provides the perfect setting for wilderness medicine and rescue training. Issues that influence the recruitment, training and retention of medical providers are intimately related, and are common to crews from the Down East islands to the mountains and rural areas of the state. Training is difficult to obtain due to their remote locations, and responders have few opportunities to practice their skills due to low call volume. In addition, island EMTs frequently practice in isolation, and the patients are often people that they know.

The conference will provide opportunities for skills development, hands-on training, and networking with other providers who work in remote environments. One area of commonality that participants share is that regardless of their level of training or experience, they are often the sole resource available to a patient.

Participants will include primary care and emergency providers from wilderness EMTs to physicians. Macmillan Ocean Survival will provide training in underwater escape procedures to EMTs who transport patients over water. Using their simulator, rescuers are trained in a set of procedures to help them escape in the event of a ditch of a plane over water or the sinking of boat. LifeFlight of Maine flight nurse Steve Babin, and emergency physician Sarah Coburn will train crews by running scenarios with Maine EMS’s new “unplugged” human patient simulator. The Maine Seacoast Mission will demonstrate its medical outreach program, based aboard the M/V Sunbeam. The program relies on a robust network of island and mainland providers coordinated by Sharon Daley, RN. Wilderness Medical Associates International’s Paul Marcolini, WEMT-P, will lead a series of training scenarios with rescuers to teach them principles of wilderness medicine and extended care.

This initiative has been spearheaded by Hurricane Island Foundation Director John Dietter, WEMT-B; Sarah Coburn, MD; and Paul Marcolini, WEMT-P. More information can be found at For more information on the upcoming conference, or about other programming on the island, contact John Dietter at or call 831-8813.