Staff and Bios

Staff Bios

J. Pearce Beissinger, MS, PA-C, FAWM SPI BW copy copy

Pearce is a California native who grew up on the East Coast. With previous experience in orthopaedics, he has spent the last decade serving as a physician assistant in cardiothoracic surgery. "Going vertical" has been a life-long pursuit for Pearce. His first exposure to climbing and mountaineering was in North Carolina and New England. He is now an accomplished mountaineer with successful summits both within the United States and abroad. Whether in a gorge, gym, or on a Cascade volcano, he continues to explore climbing in the Pacific Northwest.

Pearce is a Fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (WMS) and an AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor (SPI). He has served on the board of directors for the Appalachian Center for Wilderness Medicine (ACWM), a non-profit organization promoting quality health care in limited resource environments. Pearce has dedicated many years of service to search and rescue teams and has participated in numerous mountain rescues both on the east and west coast. He is currently the President of Portland Mountain Rescue (PMR) and in his early years served as a guide for LL Bean. Pearce is also the recipient of the 2017 Warren D. Bowman Award presented for contributions in service to wilderness medicine and to the Wilderness Medical Society.

Pearce also participates in mountain missionary work; He was a team member with Climbing for Christ (C4C) during their Mission-Nepal Expedition 2012 and most recently served as a medical guide with the 2014 and 2015 Equipping Saints for Ministry (ES4M) team during their Nepal mission trip. While he cherishes his time in the mountains, nothing compares to the blessing of his wife and two beautiful children who live with him in Portland, Oregon.

Seth Collings Hawkins, MD, MFAWM

Seth Collings Hawkins began rock climbing in Vermont in the 1980s, where he worked as a climbing instructor at Farm & Wilderness. He went on to become an emergency physician specializing in EMS and wilderness medicine. Seth is the founder of the Carolina Wilderness EMS Externship and the Appalachian Mountain Rescue Team (the first Mountain Rescue Association-affiliated team in North Carolina). He serves as medical advisor for the NC Outward Bound School's climbing program and medical director of the Burke EMS Special Operations Team, providing emergency response to climbing areas in Linville Gorge, the deepest gorge in the eastern United States. He is also medical director of the NC State Parks system and its associated climbing areas.

Seth holds physician board certification in both emergency medicine and EMS/field medicine. He was named a "Hero of Emergency Medicine" by the American College of Emergency Physicians in 2008 for his wilderness medicine work, and was named one of the Top 10 EMS Innovators of 2011 by the Journal of EMS. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, the [American College of Emergency Physicians], and the Academy of EMS. He is also the first physician ever to be designated a Master Fellow by the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He is the editor of the textbook Wilderness EMS and also serves as the executive editor of Wilderness Medicine Magazine. In addition to enjoying recreational climbing he teaches for rescue and climbing medicine programs around the country, including the annual Carolina Wilderness EMS Summit, which he established in 2012. 

Deb Simon, RN, MSc, DiMM, CPT/FNS, FAWM SPI BW copy copy

Deb, originally from Ontario, Canada, is a registered nurse and avid climber and mountaineer having summited peaks on five continents. She is an AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor (SPI), a Fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine (WMS), holds a Diploma in Mountain Medicine (DiMM) through the International Mountaineering and Climbing Federation (UIAA), and has a master’s degree in Mountain Medicine through the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

Deb is a member of the American Alpine Club, Medical Expeditions, and Wilderness Medical Society. She is also a certified personal trainer and trainer-in-chief at Vertical Medicine Resources with a focus on high altitude fitness and nutrition. Anyone who has seen her ‘guns’ knows that she takes fitness in the mountains seriously.

R. Bryan Simon, RN, MSc, DiMM, FAWM SPI BW copy copy

Bryan, a native of West Virginia, is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a former U.S. Army infantry officer and a graduate of the US Army Ranger School. After an injury in 2003, he left the military to pursue other goals. He is also an AMGA Certified Single Pitch Instructor (SPI), a Fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine, and holds a Diploma in Mountain Medicine from the UIAA. He is a graduate of Radford University and has earned a master's degree in Mountain Medicine through the University of Leicester (UK).

Bryan has climbed and trekked around the world and has participated in rescues both here and abroad. In addition to his work with Vertical Medicine Resources, he serves on the board of directors for the non-profits Appalachian Mountain Rescue Team (AMRT) and the New River Alliance of Climbers (NRAC). Bryan is also the recipient of the 2014 Warren D. Bowman Award presented for contributions in service to wilderness medicine and to the Wilderness Medical Society.

Bryan serves on the editorial board for the journal, Nursing, is an associate editor for the American Alpine Club's yearly guide, Accidents in North American Climbing, and writes on a variety of subjects related to wilderness/climbing medicine and adventure sports. His work has been featured in Climbing, Dead Point Magazine, Wilderness Medicine Magazine, and Nursing, among others. He has also written Hiking and Biking in the New River Gorge: A Trail User’s Guide, produced by Wolverine Publishing.

Additional Instructors

Vertical Medicine Resources also employees a small cadre of instructors with many years of experience in wilderness and climbing medicine, in addition to specific knowledge of major ranges throughout the world. These instructors go through a rigorous vetting and credentialing process to insure they meet the highest standards of care and expertise in their fields of endeavor. They are employed on a contractual basis based upon their individual area of expertise and the specific needs of the client to provide current medical, climbing, and geopolitical information.