Dr. Paul Auerbach, Father of Wilderness Medicine, Dies at 70

Dr. Paul Auerbach, an emergency care doctor who pioneered the sector of wilderness medication within the 1980s after which taught methods to heal folks injured by the unpredictable, died on June 23 at his house in Los Altos, Calif. He was 70.

His spouse, Sherry Auerbach, mentioned the trigger was mind most cancers.

Out within the wild, understanding learn how to deal with a venomous snake chew or a gangrenous an infection can imply the distinction between life and dying. In the 1970s, nevertheless, the specialised area of well being care often called wilderness medication was nonetheless in its infancy. Then Dr. Auerbach confirmed up.

A medical pupil at Duke University at the time, he went to work in 1975 as an intern with the Indian Health Service on a Native American reservation in Montana, and the expertise was revelatory.

“We saw all kinds of cases that I would have never seen at Duke or frankly anywhere else except on the reservation,” Dr. Auerbach mentioned in a current interview given to Stanford University, the place he taught for a few years. “Snakebites. Drowning. Lightning strike.”

“And I just thoroughly enjoyed it,” he continued. “Taking care of people with very limited resources.”

Back at Duke he tried to be taught extra about outside medication, however he struggled to seek out useful resource materials.

“I kept going back to literature to read, but there was no literature,” he mentioned. “If I wanted to read about snake bites, I was all over the place. If I wanted to read about heat illness, I was all over the place. So I thought, ‘Huh, maybe I’ll do a book on wilderness medicine.’”

Dr. Auerbach began researching materials for the e-book in 1978, when he started his medical residency at U.C.L.A., discovering the time to take action regardless of grueling 12-hour hospital shifts. He collected details about learn how to deal with burn wounds, hypothermia, frostbite and lighting accidents. He interviewed hikers, skiers and divers. And he assigned chapters to medical doctors who had been passionate in regards to the outdoor.

The ensuing e-book, “Management of Wilderness and Environmental Emergencies,” which he edited with a fellow pupil, Edward Geehr, was printed in 1983 and is extensively thought of the definitive textbook within the area. Updated by Dr. Auerbach over 30 years, it’s in its seventh version and now titled “Auerbach’s Wilderness Medicine,” with sections like “Protection From Blood-Feeding Arthropods” and “Aerospace Medicine: The Vertical Frontier.”

“Paul literally conceived of this subspecialty of medicine,” mentioned Dr. Andra Blomkalns, chair of emergency medication at Stanford. “At the time, there wasn’t a recognition that things happen when you’re out doing things. He developed this notion of, ‘Things happen to people all the time.’ Which is now a big part of our identity in emergency medicine.”

In the early 1980s, listening to from medical doctors and nurses with comparable pursuits in outside medication, Dr. Auerbach based the Wilderness Medical Society with Dr. Geehr and Dr. Ken Kizer. The group is now the most important membership group in its area and has hosted occasions like a trek to a Mount Everest base camp and a visit to a station within the Utah desert that simulates life on Mars.

Dr. Auerbach joined Stanford as chief of its emergency medication division in 1991. He left the college 4 years later to work within the non-public well being care sector earlier than returning to the college in 2005 and remaining there till his retirement final 12 months.

He grew to become an elder statesman in his area. He spoke at conferences around the globe, in a single case describing how the erectile-dysfunction capsule Viagra can be utilized to deal with excessive altitude pulmonary edema as a result of it reduces artery strain.

In his wilderness medication courses at Stanford, Dr. Auerbach taught his college students, foremost, to respect the outside.

“When house staff and residents and young doctors say, ‘How do I learn wilderness medicine?’ My very first answer to them always is, ‘Learn the wilderness first,” he mentioned within the Stanford interview. “Because you can’t help anybody if you’re just scrambling to keep yourself alive.”

Dr. Auerbach and a younger affected person in 2010 after he had traveled to Haiti as a medical volunteer within the wake of a devastating earthquake there.Credit…Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer

In 2010, when an earthquake devastated Haiti, Dr. Auerbach traveled to the nation with a workforce of emergency medical staff, and regardless of his years of expertise, he discovered the journey harrowing. A couple of years later, when an earthquake hit Nepal, he went there to help with emergency care and later helped set up a hospital there.

Dr. Auerbach mentioned it was crucial by no means to get too comfy when coping with the whims of nature. “You have to be afraid when you go into work,” he mentioned. “You have to stay humble.”

Paul Stuart Auerbach was born on Jan. four, 1951, in Plainfield, N.J. His father, Victor, was a patents supervisor for Union Carbide. His mom, Leona (Fishkin) Auerbach, was a trainer. Paul was a wrestling star in highschool and grew up spending summers on the Jersey Shore.

He graduated from Duke in 1973 with a bachelor’s diploma in faith after which enrolled in Duke’s medical college. He met Sherry Steindorf at U.C.L.A., and so they had been married in 1982. (In the 1980s he labored part-time as a swimsuit mannequin for the swimwear firm Laguna.) Dr. Auerbach studied at Stanford’s enterprise college shortly earlier than becoming a member of the college’s medical college in 1991.

In addition to his spouse, he’s survived by two sons, Brian and Daniel; a daughter, Lauren Auerbach Dixon; his mom; a brother, Burt; and a sister, Jan Sherman.

As he grew older, Dr. Auerbach grew to become more and more dedicated to increasing the sector of wilderness medication. In revising his textbook, he added sections about dealing with environmental disasters, and, with Jay Lemery, he wrote “Enviromedics: The Impact of Climate Change on Human Health,” printed in 2017.

Last 12 months, shortly earlier than he obtained his most cancers analysis, the coronavirus pandemic started to take maintain, and Dr. Auerbach determined to behave.

“The minute it all first happened, he started working on disaster response,” his spouse mentioned. “Hospitals were running out of PPE. He was calling this person and that person to learn as much as he could. He wanted to find out how to design better masks and better ventilators. He never stopped.”