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Meet the Faculty

Dr Alison Gallagher

Alison is a team doctor for Tayside mountain rescue team, and medical officer for the Scottish Cave Rescue Organisation. She is an assessor for Casualty Care for Scottish Mountain Rescue. Alison provides medical cover for endurance events. She is currently completing her GP training in Tayside, with a background in acute care, and combines this with her interest in remote pre-hospital care. Alison lives near Dundee with her husband and two young children.

Allan Stenum

Allan is WEMSI-International’s gentle giant. He is a former NCO and senior medical instructor from the Danish military. After training and working in several parts of the world with the military, he now works as a medic in Danish EMS. He is an avid kayaker and can often be found paddling the fjords or the coast of Norway and Sweden. He is passionate about the outdoors and bacon.

Having once been a WEMT student himself he was so impressed that he became involved in bringing WEMSI to Denmark.

Ben Heron

Ben is currently operating as an Advanced Paramedic Supervisor with the National Ambulance Service in Ireland. Former SAR Aircrew instructor with the Irish Air Corps SAR unit. Interested in all things outdoors.

Bill Strachan

Bill holds the Moutaineering Instructors Certificate and runs a small business based in the Scottish Highlands climbing and walking throughout the year. He has also had a few years living in Brisbane where he worked on a variety of jobs, most of which involved ropes and confined spaces. He completed his first EMT course in Cairns several years ago before becoming involved with WEMSI-International after meeting the other faculty in 2009.

Dr Caroline O'Keeffe

Caroline is an Expedition Doctor and GP, with a background in Anaesthesia, Emergency and Tropical Medicine and Humanitarian Aid. She has over 20 years of experience practicing medicine in remote and wilderness environments. She spent five years living and working in East Africa, working for Medecins sans Frontieres in Darfur and for GOAL in South Sudan, as well as running her own trauma training business in Kenya, Ethiopia and the Horn of Africa.

Her own adventures have taken her to tropical and desert environments, as well as to altitude and she has skied to the Magnetic North Pole. She has also provided remote support globally for a number of expeditions and is currently the WEMSI-International Operations Director.

Eric Pirie

Eric is an International Mountain Guide who is based the Cairngorms in Scotland. His work and play has taken him to many wilderness mountain ranges from Alaska to the Himalaya over the last 25 years. Eric’s mountain medicine journey started in 1982 when he joined the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team which he is still an active member of. In recent years he has been a full time Ski Patroller on Cairngorm Mountain and works as the Event Medical manager for Matterhorn Medical.A former flight paramedic and co-founder of WEMSI Jack Grandey has delivered wilderness medicine classes in the United States and overseas for over 30 years. Presently a healthcare consultant, he was a nationally registered paramedic with additional qualifications in flight, critical care transport, tactical and wilderness care.

Hamish Wyllie

Hamish is medical engineer based in the highlands of Scotland. An active winter and summer climber both in Scotland and Europe for over 30 years with occasional excursions to other areas. Has now ventured into sea kayaking to give his knees and hips a rest and to try and cause damage to the rest of his body. Previously worked in outdoor education for 10 years and has been been a member of Cairngorm Mountain Rescue team for the last 20 years. Qualified as an WEMT in 2001. Has been trying to learn to learn to ski for over 20 years, but still hasn’t managed it – maybe this year.

Hanni Steppan
Hanni is a filmmaker, creative, and ski instructor from Austria. Born in Innsbruck, raised in Vienna and based near Salzburg, she travels the world in search of great stories, fresh snow and outdoor adventures.  She blogs at
Dr Helen Connolly

Working as a single-handed GP in a rural practice, volunteering with South Eastern Mountain Rescue Association and running Espwa Haiti, a charity to support orphanages in Haiti, Helen is sooooooooo busy she hasn’t had time to write her bio yet…..

Jack Grandey

A former flight paramedic and co-founder of WEMSI, Jack Grandey has delivered wilderness medicine classes to mountain and cave rescue teams in the United States and internationally for over 30 years. He’s a member of the Field Leadership Team and the International Response Team for Team Rubicon. A healthcare consultant, EMS educator, Ski Patrol and Critical Care Transport Program Director, he was a nationally registered paramedic with additional qualifications in flight, critical care transport, tactical and wilderness care.

Dr Jason Horan

Jason works as a Consultant in Emergency Medicine in Ireland. He graduated in 2002 and has been involved as WEMSI faculty since 2009, having met his wife when he was a student on the course in 2008.

He is involved with Mountain Rescue and also with the Advanced Paramedic programme in UCD.  He responds with  CRITICAL charity, providing pre-hospital critical care in the West of Ireland on a voluntary basis. He is currently the Clinical Director of WEMSI-International.

Dr Jel Coward

Jel is a physician in British Columbia. Originally from the UK, he has worked with Mountain Rescue in Wales and now works with Search and Rescue in BC. He is a helicopter rescue technician with the Pemberton SAR team. He is also a member of Whistler-Blackcomb ski patrol.
He practices emergency medicine and general practice in rural and remote ‘fly-in’ communities.
Emergency care education is a passion. Jel and his partner Rebecca have developed The CARE Course, an award winning, interprofessional, emergency medicine course that is delivered across Canada.

Joe O'Gorman

Joe is an Advanced Paramedic in Dublin and an active member of the Irish Mountain rescue scene. It was thanks to Joe that WEMSI came ‘over the pond’ to the Ireland and the UK from its roots in the US.
Joe has a new found passion in Sea Kayaking and still escapes to the hills with his family when he can, and climbing with his Dad and Bro who are also members of the faculty

Currently Joe co-ordinates the Irish courses for WEMSI-International.

John Hinds

John is the DHART Operations Manager, an air medevac critical care transport service in northern New England. He has been in the EMS for over 38 years, a Paramedic for over 30 years with 25 years as a flight paramedic. Additionally, John is the Commander/Deputy Commander for Massachusetts 1 DMAT, a disaster medical team deploying for the United Sates Government. John is a member of the Upper Valley Wilderness Response Team.

Julie Porteous

Julie is a Chartered Sports Physiotherapist working and living in Aviemore, where she runs her own practice. She also works extensively with Newtonmore mens shinty team (think armed rugby!), the British Paracycling team, Scottish Rugby and Prometheus AlphaMed as a mountain medic.

She is a bit of an outdoor addict with her main passion being skiing. She has skied all over the world and is currently a children’s alpine race coach. When she is not coaching you’ll find her in the back country.

Kirsti Samson

Kirsti lives in the Lake District, in the UK, where she follows her passion for mountaineering and the outdoors. She enjoys altitude for work and pleasure and has been lucky enough to climb all over the world. She leads expeditions to Nepal and is active in helping rebuilding projects after the earthquake.She also works on long distance events as a mountain medic.

Maria Kennedy

Maria is a WEMT and member of WEMSI faculty since 2007. She also volunteers with the Civil Defence and is a commander and duty officer in Dublin. Her duties also include in SAR and boat crews and she is also responsible for medical training within the Civil Defence. Professionally, she is a trainer in Community First Responder (CFR), Occupational First Aid (OFA), Emergency First Responder (EFR), Manual Handling and Patient Handling.

If a casualty looks particularly gruesome or a scenario especially realistic it is Maria’s hard work and experience with the Causalities Union that is to blame for the spectacular props and make up which makes these courses stand above the rest.

Dr Matt Ladbrook

Dr Matt Ladbrook is a General Practitioner with a special interest in expedition and wilderness medicine. He has delivered medical care to his patients all over the world, including in deserts, the Arctic and at very high altitude.

Matt provides bespoke advice to a number of UK organisations operating in remote locations overseas. His experience allows him to provide a blend of medical, military, counter-terrorist and incident management advice. Matt is a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine and is an experienced medical trainer and is currently the WEMSI-International Medical Director.

Peter Harvey

Peter Harvey is an EMTB and a Fellow of the Wilderness Medical Society with experience as an expedition medic in Africa and South America. He has worked in various environments from high altitudes to deserts. Peter’s day job is as an advisor to exploration and adventure companies working in remote areas around the globe. Peter has been part of the team since 1999.

Rowland Woollven

A graduate of the first WEMT course to be run in the UK, Rowland is a freelance sea kayak guide and coach living on the west coast of Scotland. He has led a number of expeditions to southeast Alaska and western British Columbia, and has circumnavigated Great Britain by sea kayak. He also holds the MIA and has climbed in most parts of the British Isles, the European and Norwegian Alps as well as the odd visit to the Himalayas.

Stuart Johnston

Stuart lives in Aberfeldy Scotland. Joined WEMSI-International in 2000, he is a qualified winter mountaineering climbing instructor (WMCI) He is co-author of the internationally acclaimed Mountain Skills Training Handbook and The Hillwalkers Guide to Mountaineering. Served in MRT for over 2 decades including 10 years as a team leader. Stuart also delivers rope access and medical training to people working in remote environments across the world. He regularly manages event safety for large outdoor sporting events. Recently he been exploring Scotland’s lochs and coastline by kayak.

Vaughan Mason

Vaughan is an fulltime Advanced Paramedic/Firefighter with Dublin Fire Brigade. He is a member of the Dublin & Wicklow Mountain Rescue team with 22 years service and instructs on various courses including Remote Emergency Care and Wilderness EMT. He is also a PHECC Ireland examiner and Tutor. Vaughan has been involved in WEMSI-International since 1998. Wilderness activities include climbing, Canadian canoeing, the occasional caving trip and eating pies.