ER physician, wilderness safety expert with deer season tips

Published: Nov. 14, 2011

LANSING, Mich. - As Michigan hunters prepare for opening day of firearm deer hunting season Tuesday, Dr. Jeff Hirschi, a Sparrow Emergency Room Physician and advanced wilderness life support instructor, offers back-to-the-woods safety tips.

"Remember, we take our medical history and our medical problems into the wilderness with us," said Hirschi. "If you have diabetes at home, you also have diabetes while deer hunting. Remember to take precautions and check with your physician first."

Hirschi, a Utah native, has saved lives, climbed mountains, and performed spectacular wilderness rescues. Before pursuing a career in medicine, Hirschi served as the Olympic Ski Race Patrol Director for the 2002 Winter Games. He has served as a mountaineering rescue patroller on Mt. McKinley at Denali National Park in Alaska, search and rescue commander, and Utah Forest Service Avalanche Center backcountry observer.

Hirschi's expert medical training and extensive outdoor experience have taught him the wilderness is a beautiful, but potentially dangerous environment. That's why he reminds hunters of the importance of knowing the environment and weather patterns of the area, and bringing proper gear in case of emergencies.

"You're potentially messing with your life if you do not have the proper equipment and supplies in case things go wrong," he said. "Always keep in the mind the wilderness is often a long way from a Level 1 trauma center like Sparrow."

Hirschi reminds hunters to practice standard gun safety and use good judgment while in the woods. That includes avoiding alcohol.

Alcohol and hunting do not ever mix. This is an obvious impairment to good judgment," he said. "Alcohol makes people feel warm when they are actually losing heat. It dehydrates you and makes you more susceptible to cold injury."

Sparrow is the only verified Level 1 Trauma Center in mid-Michigan. Sparrow has expert trauma surgeons in the hospital 24 hours a day, seven days a week, ready to care for severely injured patients.

To see two videos of Hirschi offering additional wilderness safety tips and more information about his extensive background in wilderness life support go to Sparrow's YouTube channel.