Three people with ties to the Camas-Washougal area recently spent a few days in north-central Washington, to help individuals affected by the Okanogan complex fires.
Scott Jonason, a physician assistant, certified and owner of Lacamas Medical Group, in Camas and Vancouver; Jennifer Kaufmann, a Lacamas medical assistant for 12 years; and George Ryland, a former Camas resident, provided medical support to fire crews and residents of the Tunk Valley area — 20 miles north of Omak.
They were there from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3.
“We were equipped to provide advanced first aide, for wound care, insect bites, dehydration and respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD flares,” Jonason said.
They also delivered supplies that had been donated from the Camas-Washougal community.
Supplies from this area included water and sport drinks, as well as snacks, such as protein and granola bars for firefighters.
School supplies were also donated.
“Immediate needs have been answered, but they will have ongoing needs,” Jonason said. “There are more humanitarian needs and livestock needs, for those who lost everything.
“The future needs include more sheltering and clothing, as well as food,” he added. “Most of the people are back in their houses and are self-sufficient.”
Additional undergarments, such a T-shirts, underwear and socks, are needed for firefighters, according to Jonason.
“Some of them have been in tents up there for a couple of weeks,” he said. “They could be there for another month.”
The Okanogan complex fires have grown into the largest wildfire in Washington history at more than 256,567 acres.
In addition to addressing medical needs, Jonason said he, Kaufmann and Ryland unloaded trucks of supplies and provided security checks in homes.
There had been some problems with looters, Jonason said.
“We stomped out a couple of hot spots,” he said. “We had shovels and picks in our trucks. We buried it or snuffed it out.”
Jonason grew up in Wenatchee, located approximately 120 miles from Tunk Valley.
His 22 years in the military included service in the Army, the Oregon Army National Guard and the Oregon Air National Guard.
“My feeling was, ‘if I can help, I should,” Jonason said, regarding his recent trip to the areas affected by fires.
Ryland has retired from the Oregon Army National Guard. He was an Army medic with Jonason 25 years ago.
The two friends have previously assisted victims of Hurricane Katrina, in New Orleans.
Kaufmann and Jonason have provided post-earthquake assistance, in Haiti.