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Meet Dr. Ben Mattingly - Saving Lives in the Wilderness

October 07, 2016

Growing up in Kentucky, Dr. Ben Mattingly, FAWM – a wilderness medicine expert in Baystate Medical Center’s Emergency Department – always loved being outside where he could enjoy camping, fishing, water-skiing or just spending time away from the busy everyday “normal” life.

Emergency Medicine was a natural fit for him, which then later developed into a specific niche of “Wilderness Medicine” after traveling to New Zealand for a year and learning and teaching “down under.” Dr. Mattingly is now the program director of the Wilderness Medicine fellowship at the University of Massachusetts Medical School-Baystate.

What is Wilderness Medicine?

Wilderness Medicine encompasses much more than people realize. Generally, people think you have to climb Mt. Everest to practice wilderness medicine, but they don’t think about traveling to Mexico for a wedding, Cancun on a scuba-diving trip, the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, or your own backyard on a day-hike,” says Dr. Mattingly.

“Wilderness Medicine prepares you for any disaster in which you have limited medical supplies. This encompasses disaster medicine, travel medicine, international medicine, and, of course, mountain medicine,” he explained

Has he ever had to treat himself while on an adventure?

“Mostly minor stuff for myself and family such as blisters, sprained Achilles, diarrhea, and minor altitude sickness. But, I have also treated high-altitude pulmonary edema, headaches, lacerations and much more on clients on our expeditions and strangers on the trail,” says the Emergency Department doctor.

 When not in the ER

When not working in the Emergency Room, you will most likely find Dr. Mattingly climbing a mountain, rock-climbing, fly-fishing, hunting, biking, kayaking, riding his motorcycle or dirt-bike, or boating – usually with family or friends. He also enjoys planning adventure CME (Continuing Medical Education credits) trips found on his Wild Med Adventures website.

Beyond the great outdoors, Dr. Mattingly says he has “so many interests that I need two lifetimes to do them all.” He enjoys planning expeditions, reading books, playing corn-hole, and watching his kids play sports, yet still has plans to get his pilot’s license and learn to sail.

One of his favorite recent adventures?

“We taught a Mountain Medicine CME course while traveling to Tanzania, Africa. Luckily, I was able to take my daughter, Amber, as well as my wife, Jen, and dad, Bruce. We all summited Kilimanjaro. More recently we climbed Mt. Elbrus in Russia for another Mountain Medicine course, which was my fourth of the Seven Summits,” says Dr. Mattingly.

In addition to his daughter Amber, 13, he and his wife are the parents of Jared, 22, and Adam, 16.