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Bear Maulings: Before & After

Medical professionals and backcountry enthusiasts who want to arm themselves with information on bear maulings will be interested in a national conference April 5 at Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

The hospital will host “Bear Maulings, Before and After,” a conference developed by surgical technologists for the medical mindset but open to the public. The climax of the day will be the first-person story of a bear mauling survivor.

It is the first time KRMC has hosted the national conference, sponsored by the Montana State Assembly of AST (Association of Surgical Technologists). It runs from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, April 5, in Buffalo Hill Conference Center at KRMC. Continuing education credits will be offered. Conference organizers and KRMC surgical technologists Cara Boka, CST, and Marsha Lyles, CST/CSFA, expect 100 people from across the United States to attend the conference.

  • Glacier National Park Retired District Ranger Gary Moses, EMT-I, kicks off the day with an 8 a.m. talk, Bear Attacks in the Pre-hospital Setting. In his 23 years as district ranger in Glacier, Gary led bear management planning and operations that took him through diverse and complicated bear encounters. He’s been introduced as “the person who has likely treated more bear attack victims and investigated more bear attack incidents than anyone in the continental United States,” according to the conference brochure.
  • Lawrence Iwerson, MD, follows with a 9:15 a.m. discussion, Managing Bear Maulings. The orthopedic surgeon with Flathead Valley Orthopedic Center is widely published and active in presentations across the United States and Canada on managing bear maulings. At KRMC, Dr. Iwerson is considered the resident expert.
  • Pharmacist Donna Reber, PharmD, RPh, will take a look at Antibiotic Therapy Post Attack in her 10:30 a.m. presentation. She has been a staff pharmacist at KRMC since 2002, and was a pharmacist at North Valley Hospital from 2000 to 2011. Her 11 years of experience in a regional trauma center and other emergency settings give her good insight to treating infections from bear attacks.
  • Reece Roat, CCEMT-P, a member of the ALERT air ambulance crew at KRMC, will address Bear Mauling Treatment from the Field en Route to the Hospital during his 12:30 p.m. presentation. He’s a state-certified EMS lead instructor, and serves as an adjunct instructor at Flathead Valley Community College. He’s been on the ALERT crew since 2011.
  • Plastic surgeon Brentley Buchele, MD, will take a look at Complex Wounds: Bites and Maulings at 1:45 p.m. He joined KRMC in 2006, bringing a resume that includes numerous awards, honors and university positions. He has been published in many journals on plastic and reconstructive surgery and burn care rehabilitation.
  • Bear attack survivor David Reich wraps up the day with his story at 3 p.m. In My Bear Mauling, he will recount the events of Sept. 16, 1995, when he came face-to-face with a bear and lived to tell the story. He was in KRMC’s Human Resources department for 26 years, and for the last 10 years has been overseeing daily operations at The Summit Medical Fitness Center.

Full-day attendance qualifies for six contact hours of continuing education from the Association of Surgical Technologists. Cost is $40 for AST members, $45 for non-members, $20 for students and $50 at the door. Registration closes March 28; register online at For more information, call Marsha Lyles at (406) 670-8376.