Alaska flagSafety training in Anchorage, Alaska

Kurt Friehauf - 2011

xWe took a week-long safety training course in Anchorage before heading out to the field.  When I tell people we had a safety course, people often shake their heads sympathetically.  This course, however, was a safety course Alaska style!  It was a great education!

We stayed in a hotel in town - the cheapest I could find, of course, because I'm a cheapskate.  There was an open field behind the hotel.  The boundary between wildlife and city life is blurry in Alaska.  A young moose was eating saplings right there in town. 

xEven young moose (mooses?) are big creatures.  We saw a video of a moose attack in our safety training which certainly convinced me to keep a safe distance. 

xPart of the safety training focused on wilderness survival techniques following an aircraft crash.  The training company (Learn To Return, Inc.) was very good about integrating a lot of hands-on experience in the course - it is one of the hallmarks of their program.  Here, Ken and Natalie have dressed their wounds and have made makeshift footwear after a simulated aircraft crash in the Alaskan wilderness. 

xThe training included a section on bear awareness.  The course  heavily emphasized 1) the importance of being aware that we'd be working in bear country, 2) that bears are truly awesome creatures against whom we would have absolutely no chance in hand-to-hand combat, 3) it is best to avoid confrontations with bears, 4) if there is potential for confrontation, how to effectively use bear spray, and 5) how to shoot a gun if necessary.  We practiced firing at paper targets so if things came down to that, it wouldn't be our very first time shooting a firearm. 

xThe course also placed very heavy emphasis on firearm handling safety protocols.  NO ONE wants accidents with firearms!  Here, Melania triple checks to make certain that her shotgun is not loaded. 

CPR training with LTRThe third part of the course was an introduction to wilderness medicine.  The founder of the school - Brian Horner - is not only a survival specialist, but also an expert on wilderness medicine (i.e., treating injuries in very remote and difficult locations, far from the conveniences of civilization).

In addition to basic CPR, we learned some cool intermediate first aid skills.  Kutztown student Ken Schlosser is wearing the red shirt
(video is 11 Mb and in mov format , so it takes a while to download.  It's nothing particularly exciting to watch, in fact it was one of the least exciting things we did in our training, but it's the only thing for which I have a picture because they kept us actively doing/practicing things all the time, leaving me little time to dawdle around taking pictures.)

After we were all trained up, it was time to head for the field!

On to Mount Fairplay photos Alaska arrow

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