Wildfire news, July 5, 2011

Steven Dickerson

Body of missing Oregon firefighter found

An excerpt from an article in the Register-Guard:

Steven Dickerson
Photo: Lane County Search & Rescue

Lane County and U.S. Forest Service search crews have located and retrieved the body of Steven Dickerson, a 32-year-old Forest Service wildland firefighter, northeast of Oakridge in the Willamette National Forest.

There appears to be no indication of foul play in Dickerson’s death, officials said. Dickerson, of Oakridge, had left behind a note indicating that he was despondent, officials have said.

Dickerson was declared missing after failing to report to an out-of-state firefighting deployment on June 29. His body was found Sunday afternoon northeast of Grasshopper Mountain, officials said. Law enforcement personnel from four agencies, K9 tracking dogs and a helicopter participated in the search.

His body was found in a remote forest area with no trail access and very rough terrain. About 35 Lane County and Forest Service employees spent most of Monday recovering the body, which was taken about 3 p.m. for an autopsy at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend.

Our sincere condolences to Mr. Dickerson’s family and co-workers.

Army program works to make soldiers fit in body and mind

The U.S. Army program described in the excerpt below from the Washington Post may find applicability among wildland firefighters, some of whom are deployed on fire assignments for extended periods of time with short breaks between fires. Interagency Hot Shot crews and Wildland Fire Modules may spend three to five months every year fighting fires, coming home briefly to wash clothes and pay bills.

…The program, called Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, is designed to make soldiers more psychologically “resilient” amid the pressures of combat, repeated deployments, and family and financial crises.

The effort runs counter to many military traditions.

“It’s a big culture change,” said Col. Jeffery Short, a physician and the program’s medical director.

“For decades,” he said, the Army attitude was “everybody’s just going to be tough. . . . You’re going to sweat this out, and when you come out the other end, you’re going to be better for it.

“Now, to concentrate on how people are thinking, and how they’re feeling . . . that is an Army culture change,” he said.

Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, who oversees the program, said: “The Army recognized that its historical way of dealing with psychological fitness was to wait until somebody showed evidence of not having psychological fitness and then trying to fix it.”

This is an effort to help soldiers before that happens.



Thanks Dick and Kelly

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.