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The smokejumper and the doula: Sound Effect, Episode 167.5

Courtesy of Sarah Berns
A pregnant Sarah Berns stands in front of a helicopter she managed for the U.S. Forest Service.


Sarah Berns grew up on the East Coast of the United States in a family that valued academics and literature, and her parents expected that she would pursue some kind of cerebral, upper-middle-class career, just like her brothers.

Instead, Berns chose to move west and become a wildland firefighter.

In this story, Berns talks about what it’s like to be the lone woman on a fire crew, how she earned the respect of her peers, and how she balanced breastfeeding and firefighting. Plus, she talks about the surprising similarities between her first career as a smokejumper fighting wildfires and her second career as a doula assisting in childbirth.

Gabriel Spitzer is a former KNKX reporter, producer and host who covered science and health and worked on the show Sound Effect.