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Medical Reviewers

Johnathan Blum


Born and raised in the whitewater mecca of Eugene, Oregon, Jonathan has been playing on rivers since his early days. He had his first rowing experience at age three in his father’s lap and started guiding in Oregon at age 16 on the McKenzie River. Since then, Jonathan has been guiding rafts, teaching kayaking and instructing professional river rescue all over the US and the world. Jonathan has a passion for travel and has kayaked in more than 20 different countries! Jonathan makes a point of a yearly adventure to some new country or exotic location.  Jonathan returned to school in 2009 to become a Registered Nurse and now works in Critical Care when he isn’t on the river.

Jonathan discovered First Descents while working at Wet Planet Whitewater near Hood River, OR.  He helped as a volunteer on a course and was hooked!  Since then, he has been an instructor on at least five FD programs, volunteers for many others and started reviewing medical cases in 2015.  His future goals include working more FD programs, going to the FD Ball and being the medical staff person on a FD Surf Trip!

Rick Schoen

"Doc Brown"

DB comes from the Midwest originally – born and raised in Fort Wayne, IN.  He has lived in beautiful Washington state since 1976.  He has always enjoyed the outdoors.  So all the outdoor adventures in Washington fit him well.  Rick loves rivers and what they teach and show us.  He was a sea kayaker up until he was put in a WW boat out at the ocean surf.  Stopped sea kayaking and never looked back.  Rick has been known to telemark ski, hike, and occasionally climb,  but he particularly loves rivers. Besides the outdoors, he is probably best known for his fashionable dress and his ability to sleep in anywhere and anytime!  And I hear Rick is a Story Teller.  Rick also loves FD.  He’s volunteered at 1-3 camps a year since 2009.  He says “ The volunteers get as much out of these programs as do the campers!”

Terez Malka


Terez (T-Rex) Malka is an Emergency Physician and Pediatrician who specializes in wilderness medicine and remote disaster response.  Her writing and research interests include high-altitude acclimatization, drowning and whitewater safety, heat and cold-related illness, and special populations in the wilderness.  In her free time, she is an avid whitewater kayaker and backpacker and loves getting outside with her two boys.  She has been involved with First Descents as a medical volunteer since 2013 and looks forward to many more years of involvement!

Liz Sherwood


Liz Sherwood is from New Orleans but it was the family’s move to Santa Barbara, CA that put her in touch with her love of being outside whether it was hiking, swimming in the ocean, riding her bike, playing tennis, canoeing, sailing, skiing and being in the mountains as well as checking out the flora and fauna. She continues to love to explore and is currently spending a lot of her time in Mexico when not in the US.

She first volunteered with First Descents in 2012 so she could check it out before referring folks she worked with at the University of North Carolina Cancer Hospital She was really impressed! Now she helps as a medical volunteer and medical reviewer. She worked for many years at UNC as a nurse practitioner and the clinical coordinator of their survivorship program and LIVESTRONG™ Center of Excellence and now has started her own business.

Heather Carlson


Heather Carlson Justice has worked as a physician assistant in oncology since graduating from PA school and loves working with cancer patients. She worked at MD Anderson Cancer for 7 years before missing the Midwest and transitioning to the University of Michigan Cancer Center. While in Ann Arbor, she met her husband who relocated them both to East Tennessee. Heather currently works with Wellmont Health Systems and has recently taken a position as founding faculty of Milligan College’s PA school. Heather likes to keep busy and set large goals. She is a 6 time Ironman finisher with a few top 5 age group finishes. She loves to travel the world and see people take on and complete big goals.

Timothy Swift, PA-C, MHS, FAWM


Tim (aka Swifty) is a physician assistant at Geisinger Health System, currently working in Primary Care.  In a prior life, he was a Certified Athletic Trainer in varied settings from the High School to professional baseball.  His first position at Geisinger as a PA-C was in Medical Oncology.  That experience is what lead him to wanting to serve the cancer community.  He is a Fellow in the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has greatly enjoyed being a medical reviewer and serving as medical staff at camps for First Descents

When not at work, he can be found with his son in the mountains of PA- hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking, and camping. That is when he is not busy being a Swim Dad or Soccer Dad.

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