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For Release: Tuesday, October 8, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 9/30/19 - 10/6/19

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations, and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured, or distressed people from the backcountry.

In 2018, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 105 wildfires that burned a total of 845 acres, participated in 24 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 610 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,354 tickets or arrests.

"Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which take them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountainous peaks, to white-water rivers, and throughout our vast forested areas statewide."

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 30 at 4:34 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiking party on the north side of Mount Colden reporting an 18-year-old female in the group fatigued and unable to walk. Through additional questioning by Rangers and Dispatch, it was discovered that the hiker had a pre-existing heart condition, that if taxed, causes circulation issues, fatigue, and an inability to walk. Forest Rangers Robert Praczkajlo and Robbi Mecus responded to Lake Clear Aviation to be transported by helicopter to the incident location. Once the hiker was located, a hoist rescue was performed and the woman from Mechanicville was airlifted to a local hospital for additional medical treatment. The two remaining hikers were supplied with headlamps and continued their hike out to the trailhead.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 1 at 7:57 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Herkimer County 911 requesting Forest Ranger assistance rescuing a 59-year-old woman from Oneida who became stranded during heavy rains on the cliff ledges on the east side of Bald Mountain. Forest Rangers Matthew Savarie, Gary Miller, and Luke Evans responded and brought gear to execute a high-angle rope rescue. At 8:45 p.m., Forest Rangers located the woman and were assisted by Old Forge and Eagle Bay Fire Departments getting the woman and her dog the few hundred feet back up to the trail, where they were escorted back to the trailhead.

Town of Newcomb
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 5 at 12:05 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a man reporting that his ex-wife was injured while hiking in the Santanoni range. He stated that he received a text message from the woman saying she had fallen and hit her head. She reported bleeding and told him that she was on her way back to the trailhead. Forest Ranger Jamison Martin and Assistant Forest Ranger Brendan Jackson responded to assist. At 2:22 p.m., Forest Ranger Martin advised that they were with the 41-year-old hiker from Red Hook and on their way out. Once back at the Bradley Pond trailhead, they were met by Newcomb EMS, which transported the woman to a local hospital for further medical treatment. All units were clear of the scene by 3 p.m.

Town of Rochester
Ulster County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 5 at 12:51 p.m., Forest Rangers responded to assist in a rescue for a woman who fell 60 feet into a crevasse next to the cliff face of Gertrude's Nose trail in Minnewaska State Park. The woman was reported to be alert and conscious with back and ankle injuries. Forest Rangers Mark Brand and Howard Kreft responded to the scene to provide ground support while Forest Ranger Kevin Slade responded to the New York State Police (NYSP) Aviation hanger in Newburgh for transport by helicopter to the incident location. NYSP Tech. Sgts. Jim Leeder and John Bernardini piloted the helicopter while Slade operated the hoist. The 30-year-old female from Golden Bridge was successfully loaded into a litter and raised by a rope from the accident site. The helicopter traveled to a nearby landing zone in the park, where she was then transferred to Kerhonkson Accord Ambulance and transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. A host of agencies assisted Rangers and NYSP with this rescue mission, including Mohonk Preserve Rangers, Minnewaska State Park Rangers, Kingston Fire Department Special Operations, Accord Fire Department, Kerhonkson/ Accord First Aid Squad, and Mobile Life Support Services.

Town of Inlet
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 5 at 1:25 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call requesting assistance for a 59-year-old female from Buffalo who dislocated her ankle while descending Rocky Mountain. Forest Ranger Robert Coscomb responded and located the woman, stabilizing her injury. Additional resources were requested. Lt. Scott Murphy, Gary Miller, and Matthew Savarie and members of the Inlet and Old Forge Fire departments arrived to assist. The woman was carried out in a rescue litter to the trailhead and transferred to Inlet EMS, where she was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment.

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Oct. 5 at 1:37 p.m., Herkimer County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch advising of a 73-year-old man from Central Square with an unstable knee injury on the Bald Mountain trail. Lt. Scott Murphy arrived on scene along with Old Forge and Eagle Bay fire departments and headed up the trail, locating him at 2:12 p.m. a quarter of the way up. The man was placed in a rescue litter and rope rescue gear was used to lower him down 100 feet of rock face. At the trailhead, the injured man was evaluated by Old Forge Ambulance and he refused further medical care.

Town of Humphrey
Cattaraugus County
Emergency Response:
On Oct. 5 at 4 p.m., Forest Ranger Wayne Krulish was flagged down by a motorist who stated that his girlfriend was stung by a bee and was experiencing a severe allergic reaction. The patient was experiencing difficulty breathing with shallow respirations and had hives breaking out on her arm. The pair were heading to a local hospital but were not sure of the exact route. Forest Ranger Krulish led the way with lights and siren, advising Cattaraugus County 911 Dispatch about the severe anaphylactic reaction. The Ranger requested a rescue squad meet the hikers along the route with epinephrine. On Buffalo Road, ALS ambulance personnel met the patient and administered epinephrine and transported her to the hospital for additional treatment.

Last week's highlights failed to mention additional agencies that assisted Forest Rangers on a rescue. The following is the corrected version:

Town of Hopkinton
St. Lawrence County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Sept. 27 at 1:26 p.m., the NYSP contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch requesting a Forest Ranger hoist operator to assist with the rescue of a 25-year-old female at the bottom of a cliff with two possible leg fractures. Forest Rangers Robert Praczkajlo and Kevin Burns responded to the Adirondack Regional Airport to be transported by helicopter to the incident location. The woman was located in the St. Regis River after she had fallen off a cliff trying to rescue her dog, who had fallen halfway down. Forest Ranger Praczkajlo was inserted at the top of the cliff with a litter and climbed down to the woman. After assessing the situation, he determined a rope rescue was the safest way to evacuate the subject. Once the woman was stabilized, a high angle rope rescue system was set up by Forest Ranger Praczkajlo and Franklin County Technical Rescue Team with the assistance from Tri Town Rescue. Back at the top of the cliff, a UTV brought the woman to a waiting ambulance. Forest Ranger Praczkajlo then rappelled down and rescued the subject's dog. The dog was raised with ropes by the assisting fire departments from both St. Lawrence and Franklin counties and turned over to family members. The woman was transported by Tri Town Rescue to an area hospital.

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC's Hiking Safety and Adirondack Backcountry Information webpage for more information.

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