CWS Faculty & Staff

With backgrounds in wilderness medicine education, tactical medicine, urban emergency medical services and Search and Rescue operations, you'll find the staff of CWS to be among the most highly trained remote medicine specialists in the field. Experienced and passionate outdoor professionals and those new to the out-of-doors will find that our training courses help to prepare them both physically and mentally with the knowledge, skills and ability to provide patient care far beyond what they thought possible.

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Aaron_PeppelAaron Peppel

An avid rock climber and ultra-light backpacker, Aaron takes the "less is more" approach to the outdoors. "Everything you need for 5 days shouldn't weigh more than 15 lbs." Aaron was introduced into wilderness & rescue medicine back in 2009 and has done anything and everything he can to enhance his knowledge of how to live off the land and test his skills in the outdoors ever since! He currently runs as a career Medic with a local rescue squad in Raleigh, NC.


Amy_CastlemanAmy Castleman

VIRGINIA    WFR, CPR/AED, Red Cross Instructor

Amy has a passion for being outdoors - and it shows. Then again, she also has a passion for teaching, as well as animals (she has a degree in veterinary technology). An American Red Cross and wilderness first aid instructor of many years, Amy teaches many CPR and Wilderness First Aid courses in the Northern Virginia-DC-Maryland area. She's widely known for her great ways of taking complex concepts and breaking them down in a fun and easy way for students to learn and understand.


Andrew_GoldbergAndrew Goldberg, M.D.


Dr. Goldberg currently serves on our executive board of directors, offering his guidance in the field of emergency medicine and curricula.


Beth_GoldbergBeth Goldberg

An instructor in training, Beth recently served in Kenya, Africa and now works with a local non-profit in our nation's capital. A graduate of Georgetown University and former student leader of its outdoor education program, Beth is an outdoor enthusiast who loves to help people. She also wants you to know that she's not related to Dr. Goldberg, above. 😉


Bethany_MulcherBeth Muchler


Bethany recently joined us as an intern and hopes to become an instructor someday soon! As a Wilderness First Responder and park ranger, her experience with handling outdoor emergencies (as well as her degree in experiential education) make her an asset to the CWS team! Welcome aboard, Bethany!


Christopher_PattonChristopher Patton


Chris is an asset to CWS (and the US). He recently returned home from being deployed in Afghanistan for nearly a year, serving as a combat medic and tactical medicine educator. Chris is also a firefighter and works with our special event EMS program as a field team member.


Clay_WilkinsClay Wilkins, M.D.

A West Point graduate and experienced physician, pilot, and educator, Dr. Wilkins currently serves on our executive board of directors. He recently moved from Alabama to Northern Virginia, where he joined CWS to not only continue his passion as an emergency medicine educator, but also to lend his years of expertise in the military to help CWS develop new, advanced training courses that focus primarily on advanced medical practitioners and military operators. Clay is heavily involved in Scouting and volunteers as an assistant scoutmaster with a local troop in Northern Virginia.


Clifton_CastlemanClifton Castleman
Executive Director, Co-Founder 

VIRGINIA    WEMT, CPR/AED, Red Cross Instructor

An Eagle Scout and long-time member of the Wilderness Medical Society, Clifton is one of the co-founders of Center for Wilderness Safety stemming from central Pennsylvania. A Wilderness EMT and American Red Cross instructor of over a decade, he was awarded the American Red Cross' Patricia M. & James M. Hudson Health & Safety Award for his outstanding leadership and instruction in 2010.

He has served as the volunteer medical director for the Sierra Club's annual One Day Hike, and has served as a volunteer rescue squad member, member of the Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group, and currently works with the National Park Service as a volunteer medic. He currently volunteers as an EMT with a rescue squad in Fairfax County, Virginia.


Corey_VezinaCorey Vezina


Corey is a Wilderness First Responder and Multi-Pitch certified AMGA (American Mountaineering Guides Association) climbing instructor. While not off around the US climbing, helps to design and maintain our climbing safety and risk management programs.


Dale_SaxbyDale Saxby

A southwestern Pennsylvania native, Dale now lives and works in Northern Virginia; spending most weekends volunteering as a Potomac Appalachian Trail Conference trail overseer and certified sawyer in the Shenandoah National Park, Central District, and George Washington National Forest.

In his spare time, he enjoys circa 1860’s re-enacting, backcountry camping, and canoeing. Since his first Wilderness First Aid course, he has put his new found expertise to use as a First Aid Team Leader for special events and festivals and is a volunteer EMT and Firefighter in Frederick County, Virginia. He is now looking forward to teaching wilderness medicine courses.


Danielle_TinkerDanielle Tinker


Danielle just returned from Oregon, where she was working with a program that offers outdoor adventure for underprivlidged and at-risk youth.


Dan_MehanDaniel Mehan


Dan is an EMT with a volunteer EMT for a rescue squad in Loudoun County, Virginia, and attended George Mason University. An Eagle Scout, Dan has been at almost every WFA course that has been offered in the Northern VA area for the three years after he earned his WFA certification nearly almost a decade ago. Dan has now graduated from George Mason as an RN and BSN. Congrats, Dan!


Dianne Bullach

Dianne plays an integral part of the CWS machine. In our Gear Shop, she is constantly helping with order fulfilment and financial accounts. When she's not working in the shop, she's helping us get ready for courses by helping to prep course materials and paperwork for class.


Frances Meeker

Serving as our assistant medical director, Frances has a passion for education and has just completed her master's degree in nursing as a nurse educator. An emergency room nurse of many years, she offers CWS a great deal of insight into the definitive care aspect of emergency medicine.

Frances is also a licensed radio operator and has assisted with communications in many large scale emergencies including post 9/11 recovery operations at the Pentagon in Washington DC. Frances assists our program department with ensuring that CWS continues to offer the latest medical protocols accepted in the field.


Michael "Gunner" Rose
Disaster Preparedness Program Director 


"Gunner" as he's known, a retired Army Colonel, started his 'Be Prepared' lifestyle as an Eagle Scout and throughout his 30 years with the US Army (22 years in Special Operations). He has served in more than 40 countries and has provided humanitarian support in the aftermath of numerous natural and man-made disasters.

A volunteer EMT and Wilderness First Aider serving in Northern Virginia, Gunner conducts prevention and preparedness classes along the Mid-Atlantic states and heads up our new Disaster Preparedness program department.


Henry Booth

If he's not out on the trail, he's Eskimo rolling his kayak, climbing a nearby rock wall or trekking through the wilderness. Henry is a great asset to our team and is a great resource for everything outdoor safety; including the CWS Gear Shop, which he runs! Try catching him at the gear shop sometime; he is the manager, after all!


Your Name Here
Like wilderness medicine? Want an AWESOME job?  We're Hiring!

We are extremely proud of our passionate and experienced staff and instructors. Our instructors come from all walks of life and have a broad range of experience from serving in the military, to volunteering with local rescue squads, working in hospital emergency departments, and more.



Jacob Benneck

Jake is a Senior at Old Dominion University who enjoys the outdoors and is heavily involved in guiding (hiking & backpacking primarily). We met him at Eastern Mountain Sports and his interest in learning wilderness medicine has grown as he starts the trail of becoming a wilderness medicine instructor. We wish him the best of luck - and really enjoy his Leave No Trace programs!


Jed Drill
Gear Shop Assistant 

VIRGINIA    WFR, CPR/AED, Red Cross Instructor

Jed came to CWS in 2007 with an interest in wilderness medicine and a desire to become an American Red Cross instructor. He now teaches many of our wilderness medicine courses and acts as a victim for hands-on scenarios. On top of that, Jed is our assistant Gear Shop manager! 
He's a great asset to our team and now that he's back from hiking over 718 miles along the Appalachian Trail, we'll be eagerly looking to him to draw from his new-found experience and start teaching wilderness medicine courses. Jed teaches many of our wilderness medicine classes and is a regular at many of our outreach events.


Jeffrey Best
PENNSYLVANIA    WFR, CPR/AED, Red Cross Instructor

In two words, Jeff is a "go-getter". He holds numerous certifications within the field of wilderness medicine, the Red Cross, and as a certified SCUBA diving instructor as well. When Jeff is not in a course, he's out working at special events with our FAST program as a team leader.


Jennifer Hollinger
PENNSYLVANIA    WFR, CPR/AED, Red Cross Instructor

She may wander but she has never gotten lost (except for maybe once or twice on the Appalachian Trail)! Jennifer is an avid hiker and backpacker and loves the outdoors. She is always looking for the next opportunity to get out and hike and to find new challenges for herself. Getting involved in wilderness medicine was just something very natural for her to do.

Having a well thought out plan and prevention are two standards from which she will not waiver. An American Red Cross instructor of several years, Jennifer enjoys teaching CPR & first aid, and is looking forward to soon teaching wilderness medicine classes as well.


Jennifer Kay
Curriculum Director 

Jen is not only our director of curriclum, but she also serves as our volunteer Scouting Coordinator, having been involved in Scouting for many years. She currently works for the University of Virginia Health System as a clinical researcher and basic cardiac life support instructor. Her many years of experience in wilderness medicine, as well as wilderness ALS make her an excellent instructor, as she is known imparting her students with real-life stories and tricks of the trade.


Jerry Kohns

A Boy Scout leader by night, Jerry is a man of many talents! His first aid skills have been tested by many a patron, as Jerry is a Team Leader with the CWS FAST teams, providing first aid support for special events, festivals, etc. During the week, he works for both the US Air Force as well as Army Reserve as a JAG Colonel. He is currently aspiring to start his paramedic training soon.


John Luck

In his "other life", John is a wilderness expedition medic, who has served on expeditions across the globe to such places as Antarctica, Argentina, Alaska, and more. Because of this passion and experience in the field, John is currently working to create a new program, Wilderness Expedition Medicine, or XMED for short.


Joseph Vulpis

Owner and operator of
Northeast Mountain Guiding, Joseph is a Wilderness EMT, Search & Rescue Technician, High Angle Rescue Technician, and IMG & PHGA certified Level III Backpacking Guide. He also sits on the Board of Directors for the Professional Climbing Guides Institute.


Kathryn Vaughn, M.D.

Dr. Vaughn is the co-exeutive medical director of Center for Wilderness Safety, and works closely with our program staff to create and maintain the standards which CWS teaches. A faculty member of the Georgetown University Hospital, she received her medical degree from Indiana University and completed her Family Medicine residency at St. Francis Hospital in Indianapolis, IN. She has worked with under served patient populations for the last 10 years.


Katie Barker
Office Manager 


A former backpacking and kayak instructor from Ohiopyle, PA (home of Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water), Katie comes to CWS with a ton of outdoor adventure and educational experience. Her love for the outdoors and helping others is certainly evident, as she helps to support our clients with all of their online support needs.


Kenneth McNeill

Ken has been involved in First Aid since 1965 when he joined the Wanda Surf Life Saving Club in Sydney, Australia. Since then, he has undertaken training on many different levels and currently volunteers with a rescue squad in Faquier County, VA. Ken is very active in Boy Scouting, teaching a plethora of merit badges and serving as an assistant Cub Master with his youngest sons' Cub Scout pack.


Kristin Portalea

A graduate and former leader of the St. Mary's University Outdoor Adventure program (CRUX), Kristin is originally from Olney, Maryland. Her experience as a Wilderness First Responder and love for just about everything outdoors (especially teaching rock climbing and basic rope rescue) lends to her reputation as a fun and interactive teacher.


Leslie Snyder

Leslie came to CWS while attending Penn State University, hoping to utilize the knowledge she'd gained while taking a NOLS course and Wilderness First Responder course through WMI. After coming back to Pennsylvania, she pursued her paramedic license and has now been running with Centre LifeLink EMS for several years as a paramedic.


Michael Milazzo

Michael took his WFA course back in January of 2007 and ever since then, he has served actively on the Health and Safety Team for the Boy Scouts's Order of the Arrow, and often comes back to serve as a victim for other WFA classes. An Eagle Scout, Michael loves the outdoors, camping, and passing along his knowledge of first aid. He is currently working on his degree at Northwestern University in Illinois.


Phil Gardner
Program Director, Co-Founder 

OHIO    WFR, CPR/AED, IC-3, Red Cross Instructor

An original co-founder of Center for Wilderness Safety, Phil is currently pursuing a graduate degree at Kent State University in Ohio. His interest and passion for both outdoor education, outdoor adventure, and wilderness medicine all stem from his involvement in Scouting. An Eagle Scout, Phil is still heavily involved in Boy Scouts in both Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Phil is a graduate of both the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) as well as the Wilderness Medical Institute of NOLS, and has a degree in Recreation and Park Management from the Pennsylvania State University. He currently also serves as a NOLS rep for the Central Pennsylvania region. Along side his passion for wilderness medicine and instructing many of our wilderness medicine courses, Phil is also an instructor for the American Red Cross as well as a member of a local Search and Rescue Team, operating out of Central PA.


Sara Afshartous

Having just finished nursing school, Sara is makes regular appearances at CWS special events with our
FAST program as a team leader.


Sean Lunn

A retired Marine who got his start in emergency and wilderness medicine while in the military, Sean has been practicing wilderness medicine for almost two decades. He is an experienced outdoorsman, and a current volunteer with the Shenandoah Mountain Rescue Group. Sean brings years of both wilderness medicine and outdoor survival skills to the CWS team - and we're glad to have him onboard.


Shiva Afshartous
Director of Special Event Services  
VIRGINIA    WEMT, CPR/AED, Red Cross Instructor

A Wilderness EMT and senior field instructor, Shiva came to CWS as an American Red Cross instructor of many years. Her fun and engaging teaching methods are always well received and her former experience as an urban EMT lend to her knowledge and obviously a passion that she shares with her students. Also an experienced NRA instructor, Shiva focuses her teaching principals not only on medical safety, but also on personal and corporate safety. She is a fantastic instructor and we're certainly lucky to have her on board! Shiva is director of special event services and is responsible for our
First Aid Support Team program.


Steven Stivison

Steven came to us as a WFR in May 2010 and is actively working on becoming a wilderness medicine instructor. A former SeaBee and gourmet chef (an odd combination, we know!), Steven loves the outdoors and has used his skills in wilderness settings many-a-time. Steven currently resides near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he serves as our program coordinator for Pennsylvania.

Steven is currently thu-hiking the Appalachian Trail! GOOD LUCK, Steven!!


Teva the Dog
CWS (unofficial) MASCOT    Black Lab

This is Teva. She's a rescued black lab who loves everybody equally, except of course for those who offer her food. Those, she'll love forever.

Your Name Here
Like wilderness medicine? Want an AWESOME job? We're Hiring!

We are extremely proud of our passionate and experienced staff and instructors. Our instructors come from all walks of life and have a broad range of experience from serving in the military, to volunteering with local rescue squads, working in hospital emergency departments, and more.