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Firefighters to go native in 'Survivor' stunt
"Fifteen South Whidbey firefighters, medics, and rescue volunteers will be marooned for more than a week on a desert island starting July 6, where they will have nothing to eat but rice, berries, bugs, and all the fish they can catch with a length of string and a fish hook.Inspired by the CBS Survivor series, these volunteers with Fire Protection District 3 will spend eight days and seven nights on North Finger Island in the San Juan chain. While there, they must find their own food, water and shelter. They must also learn to work as a team because no one gets kicked off the island in this Survivor - everyone must survive.That will not be as easy as it sounds, said event coordinator and FD 3 battalion chief Darin Reid. Reid, who will be part of the Survivor group, said the 35-acre island has no sources of fresh water and not much wildlife. Prior to being flown to the island on several float planes, the participants will be able to pack a few survival items, including rice, water, tarps and rope, but not enough of any of these things to survive an entire week.Reid came up with the idea for the event while at a fire conference in San Jose with FD 3 Assistant Chief Paul Busch and Battalion Chief Don Elliot. While watching Survivor on television one night during the conference, Reid told Busch and Elliot that the Survivor format would be a great training exercise.I said that would be be a heck of a team-building thing, he said.The event will also be a fund-raiser for the district. Individuals and businesses can sponsor any of the participants by putting up money for each day they remain on North Finger Island. Any money raised will go toward the purchase of rescue equipment.Volunteers up for sponsorship are Michael Angelo, Chuck Baker, Nancy Bartlett, Matt Czarnik, Don Elliot, Jim Enslow, Christina Parker, Bev Helland, Jeremy Hines, Bert Mason, Doug Neal, Darin Reid, and Jeff Simmons.At the suggestion of Elliot, who is Hawaiian, the event will officially be called Ohana Island. Ohana is the Hawaiian word for family.Reid said the 15 survival volunteers will have to work like a family to shelter and feed themselves. To further motivate them, Reid will conduct daily competitions in which the volunteers will collect food and build shelters in hopes of winning prizes such as matches or rope.The survivors will choose survival items and depart from the Langley Small Boat Harbor at 10 a.m. July 6. They will fly to the island aboard three Kenmore Air float planes. Also traveling to the island will be a safety crew that will have emergency medical equipment on hand and that will stay in contact with the mainland via cell phone.The fire district will post daily updates and pictures from the island on the Fire District 3 Web site. The district budgeted $1,000 for the event, but Reid said he hopes to use only half that amount. "