We 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
Even 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.
Part of the safety training focused on wilderness
survival techniques following an aircraft crash. The training
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
The 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.
The course also placed very heavy emphasis on firearm
with firearms! Here, Melania triple checks to make
certain that her shotgun is not loaded.
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
After we were all trained up, it was time to head for the field!