Technology in Alaska can save your life. So much of this beautiful state is remote wilderness. As of 2009, the population of the state of Alaska was 678,493. Forty two percent of the state’s population lives in Anchorage. The population in Anchorage is 261,446. This means that over half of the citizens of Alaska live in more remote areas, that is hard to get access to with limited medical facilities. At the very least, cell phones have become a tool of survival. On the other end of the spectrum, Alaska’s northwest Arctic Borough has saved lives with Telehealth. For pilots, a new technology called Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast systems can and will save lives of the many people who have to travel to the interior in small aircraft. When camping or hiking in the remote areas everyone should carry a GPS. It could mean the difference between life and death. In these extreme conditions you cannot discount the importance of technical clothing.
With the advent of cell phones, a whole new way of saving lives in Alaska emerged. The conditions in Alaska can change fast. One minute it is clear and the next bad weather has moved in. Should you get caught out in a blizzard, earthquake or any other catastrophic event a cell phone can reach emergency services and your location communicated to the proper authorities. Just about everyone in Alaska carries a cell phone. Cars equipped with the famous Onstar feature are recommended here. Living in the Last Frontier means you have to think ahead since anything can and does happen.
Telehealth is a new technology that has been integral in saving lives in the Northwest Arctic Borough of Alaska and other remote areas of Alaska. Telehealth enables local practitioners to take digital pictures of various types of medical problems including burns, wounds of various kinds, even an eardrum and send them via satellite to a better equipped clinic or doctor somewhere else in the state. Telehealth then enables the doctors to teleconference to come up with the best solution. This ability to “show” a more experienced medical professional and not “describe” a medical condition has led to more correct diagnosis’ and better treatment, resulting in lives saved.
Many people are aware of how precarious flying in the state of Alaska is. When a pilot is flying without instruments and flies into weather that completely occludes his vision it becomes imperative to have reliable technology. This technology, called Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast, transmits the plane’s location to the ground controllers and other aircraft in the area. It would help prevent the aircraft from slamming into an unseen mountain. Sadly, the late Ted Stevens backed the implementation of this technology but the plane in which he was a passenger that crashed was not equipped with it.
The GPS is commonly used in cars but there is a hand-held version that is recommended for hiking or camping in the bush of Alaska. If you get lost or stranded this device can save your life. It will send your geographic location to the authorities so you can be rescued. There is an untold amount of hikers and people lost in the bush who never made it out. Had they had this beacon of life their outcome would have been happier.
Technical clothing is all the rage in hiking or camping clothes for Alaska. These materials used in outdoor clothing were invented by scientists. It really is high-tech. These materials must keep you warm in freezing temperatures, dry in wet weather and yet still allow the flow of air. If you’re going to the bush of Alaska, it is probably your first line of defense to have technically appropriate clothes. Some of the fabrics are known as Gore-Tex, Reflexion, and e-Vent. Aluminum is used in Reflexion. The aluminum serves as a reflector of heat. It reflects the heat back to your body. This is the same premise in the famous, life-saving Mylar Blankets. Many outdoor sportsmen carry this kind of blanket with them. It’s not a bad idea to have these blankets in your car in Alaska.
Technology has taken a lot of the guess-work out of surviving in extreme conditions such as you find in Alaska. Despite all the technological advances these devices are only as good as the sportsman is willing to carry them. They can only work if you have them with you. Being ready and educated about these kinds of technology is the key to surviving.