Memorial Day Weekend represents the unofficial start of summer in Alaska. It’s the weekend when people start cleaning up their yards, head out for the first camping or boating trip of the summer and break out grills for barbecuing.
All those activities can lead to wildfires, which is why Alaska’s state and federal wildland fire managers remind Alaskans and visitors alike to exercise caution with any activity that could spark a wildfire over the holiday weekend.
With high wildfire danger persisting in many parts of the state due to warm, dry conditions, the flurry of recreational activity over the first holiday weekend of the summer increases the chances of new wildfire starts. Popular Memorial Day Weekend activities that can ignite wildfires include campfires, debris burning, barbecue grills, use of all-terrain vehicles, fireworks and target shooting, to name a handful.
Alaska experienced one of its earliest and warmest springs on record this year, melting away the snowpack earlier than normal and resulting in a vigorous start to the wildfire season.
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First responders are always on the front lines supporting the community through risky and often traumatic situations. After their work is done, however, some emotions that can be hard to deal with, can linger.
A new program designed to train emergency responders on how to deal with that emotional trauma, was offered in Anchorage on Wednesday. Sarah Mielke started the Emotional Trauma Life Support program. The State Healthcare Coalition reached out to Mielke to bring her to Alaska. She travels around to different states teaching about why these emotions happen, the physical changes that come with them, and how to cope. She hosts these workshops as a former first responder, and PTSD survivor herself.
"I have dealt with almost a year and a half suicidal period several years ago," Said Mielke. "There's not much that I talk about in this class that I haven't lived through myself. It not only gives me a unique platform to be able to understand where my colleagues are coming from, but it also makes me extremely passionate about going back into those dark places, so that my colleagues don't have to continue to die at their own hands."
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