Story last updated at 5/20/2009 - 11:05 am
JUNEAU - Southeast Alaskans and visitors alike want to take advantage of the great outdoors. Equipment gets purchased, permits and licenses secured, and we're ready to head out to boat or kayak, fish or hike. But are we as prepared as we think? How do you make sure we can handle the whims of weather - or wildlife?
The need to be prepared is the driving force behind the first-ever Southeast Alaska Outdoor Safety Expo (SOS) planned by the Rotary Club of Juneau for Saturday, May 23 at Centennial Hall. More than 35 organizations, mostly non-profits and community groups, will be on hand from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for this free, day-long event of seminars, demonstrations, a trade-show and more. The concept for the Expo began when the Rotary's Club Service committee met last July to develop the year's calendar. Bob Rehfeld, a past president of the Club, proposed that something be done to replace "Heavy Equipment Day," a major service project of the past that provided young children with the opportunity to safely ride on construction equipment. (In recent years, equipment commitments and liability concerns have precluded the possibility of the Club continuing with the project.) At that same meeting, Craig Duncan, now co-chair of the event, wanted to do something to showcase the Juneau's outdoor activities.
When Club member Brian Andrews and his son Brandon disappeared on a short flight between Admiralty Island and Juneau last fall, the focus became clear - teaching those of us who live here how to be cognizant of the numerous challenges the outdoors might present. Concurrently, the Association of Government Accountants, under the leadership of Ruth Danner, began work on a related program that was held in October of 2008 and focused on survival skills. Joining Rotary for this inaugural SOS Expo will be a first responder effort coordinated by Danner and inclusive of many of the original participants from last fall's exercise.
Among the diverse groups participating at the SOS Expo are the Seadogs, Trail Mix, and the Department of Transportation's Bicycle Rodeo and many more. Two helicopters, one from the Alaska National Guard and one from the Coast Guard, will land in the former sub-port area and be available for tours. Commercial vendors will also be on hand to showcase products.
Millie and Craig Duncan, co-chairs of the event, said that it was important to organizers for it to be free of charge and open to anyone who wants to learn more about outdoor safety. For this first year, the Rotary club will be covering all fees associated with the event (not already donated by Club members and participating organizations), with the hope of being able to obtain more corporate participation in the future.