AMLJIA, The Bridge


Did you know the AMLJIA provides every member with their own Safety Savings account? Each year, AMLJIA members receive a deposit into their account. The amount is based on your annual contribution, with a minimum deposit of $250 per member. Members can choose how to use their safety savings funds for purchasing safety supplies and materials. Do you need to provide required personal protective equipment for employees or replace expired fire extinguishers? Maybe you need adjustable chairs to create ergonomic workspaces. Use your Safety Savings account!

If you purchased safety supplies in FY 2019 and did not use your Safety Savings account, you can still request reimbursement. Just email a copy of your paid invoice(s) to or fax them to 907-279-3615. If you haven’t utilized your Safety Savings account recently, don’t worry; your account is not a use-it-or-lose-it fund. Any funds remaining at the end of the year carry over to the following year.

For details about the program, visit You can check your balance at any time by calling Sharon Tunnell at 800-337-3682, or email


Training Builds Confidence, Improves Outcomes

By Amira Goldstein
AMLJIA Risk Control Specialist

Growing up in Alaska, I am familiar and comfortable flying in small aircraft. As a Risk Control Specialist with the AMLJIA, much of my job requires traveling to visit members from Savoonga to Adak, Thorne Bay to Valdez, and so many wonderful communities in between. Typically to access a community, flying in a small aircraft is required.

Alaska has been called the “flyingest state in the Union.” Nearly 82% of Alaska communities are inaccessible by road, making aviation a vital component of our transportation system. Whether living in Fairbanks or a small community in the Northwest Arctic Borough, air service is an essential mode of service that connects all Alaskans to other communities in the state, the Lower 48, and the world.

Alaskans rely on daily aviation transportation to support the movement of materials and goods that contribute to the economy and critical medical service. However, due to the unique transportation needs in our state, the rate of fatal aviation crashes per million air taxi and commuter flights in Alaska remains three times higher than the rest of the U.S.

After several fatal small aircraft crashes in Alaska this year, I decided to take the Aviation Land and Water program offered through a local organization called Learn to Return. Established in 1986, Learn to Return has been Alaska’s top rated survival school with educational programs that provide knowledge, experience, and confidence specific to situations where emergencies can occur, such as aviation, fall protection, outdoor and offshore survival, and medical training.

The Aviation Land and Water (AVLW) program, recognized by the FAA, is a two-day course in Anchorage tailored to Alaska workers who are required to fly for their jobs. Students become certified for a two-year period for both overland and overwater flights. The fast-paced course combines classroom training with hands-on skill building practices in a variety of aviation crash simulations: helicopter and fixed wing door escapes, blocked exit procedures, smoke escapes, and simulated casualties and inversion.

These samples provide a comparison of potentially lethal amounts of heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil.

After class, day one is spent outdoors for post-crash land survival field training. We learned wilderness first aid, risk assessment, patient movement, improvised emergency clothing—we even made mukluks out of material salvaged from the aircraft! Most of day two is spent at a local pool training on water ditching and techniques for post-crash water survival for both helicopters and airplanes. 

Water ditching training involves strapping participants into a two-seater box that represents the body of a small plane. Secured in the box wearing a four-point seat belt, participants are pushed off the ledge of the pool and submerged in water. Upside down and underwater, we had a matter of seconds to correctly identify reference points, open the aircraft door, and then release the seatbelt to come up for air.

It’s an unnatural sensation to be submerged upside down underwater and strapped in. It’s natural for the body to panic. However, panic can turn any situation into a dangerous or deadly one. I think a huge benefit of this training was learning how to remain calm, focus on your breathing, and keep a clear mind to overcome a scary situation.

My experience with Learn to Return has been life changing. I am more prepared every time I board a plane, whether it be a Cessna 185 or a Boeing 747. I am more aware of my surroundings—exit doors, first aid kit, and emergency supplies. I hope I am never in a plane crash, but I have more confidence and awareness of how I will respond in the event of an emergency. I highly recommend survival training to anyone who regularly flies in a small aircraft.