Vital Resources of the Minto Lakes Fire

Published: Jul. 19, 2022 at 9:04 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - When it comes to wildland fire fighting, the folks in the field are considered among the most valuable resources for a incident management team, as are the materials that allow them to combat the blazes they get assigned to.

Among the most important of those materials is food. Without it, the crews on the scene cannot keep up the fight as they burn a large amount of calories every day fighting the flames. In order to keep personnel in the field well fed, the crew back at the incident base assigns the food unit to take care of those needs. Sam Katanich, the food unit leader for the Minto Lakes Fire says that this need is met through the use of food boxes. Field camps are sent food boxes filled with fresh meat, vegetables and assorted snacks along with non-perishables. Katanich says these boxes will “feed two people for a few days and sometimes they feed four people for a few days.”

While crews work to contain the flames, injuries are an always present possibility. Due to the circumstances of the job, medical personnel are needed at every field camp. Matt Vierra, the medical unit leader says “they take care of almost everything that’s out there.” He explained that the medical situation for wild fires is unique in Alaska because the medical personnel are trained to employ advanced protocols. This means, according to Vierra, “they’re able to do treatment much more aggressively out in the field.” He added this is helpful for the crews because sometimes the firefighters face “12 hours of hiking before the can get help.”

While most of the injuries at the Minto Lakes Fire have been minimal and non-limiting work related injuries such as small cuts and bruises, the team is also able to send in air support. Vierra says that they “have two helicopters that are not dedicated, but can quickly become air transport and medical transport to medivacs.” This allows the team to get crew members to advanced medical care within an hour if needed.

Back at the incident base the medical unit is in charge of handling medications and supplies, and they will assist in taking care of a firefighter if they develop an illness while out in the field.

Of course all the personnel at the fire still need the supplies that allow them to carry out their mission, which can range from shovels and saws to hoses and drip torches - all resources that are vital to their work.

Copyright 2022 KTVF. All rights reserved.