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For Release: Monday, March 11, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 3/4 - 3/10/19

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."

Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers include:

Town of Hunter
Greene County
DEC Region 4 Forest Rangers recently conducted an ice rescue training event at Kaaterskill Falls in Greene County. The training included using ice anchors and patient packaging in a vacuum air mattress and SKED stretcher. The patient was then traversed across the ice using the ice anchor belay system. This training will better prepare Rangers for rescues in treacherous icy terrain.

Rangers practice packaging a patient Rangers hoisting the stretcher to safety
Rangers practice packaging a patient and hoisting the stretcher to safety

Hamilton County
Joint training:
DEC Forest Rangers in Region 5 hosted airmen from the New York Air National Guard's 103rd Rescue Squadron to train them in the operation of snowmobiles in extreme conditions, test equipment and winter survival skills, and conduct land navigation and cold weather operations. At week's end, the group had travelled hundreds of miles by snowmobile, camped in subzero temperatures, and improved their winter survival skills.

Rangers and members of NY Air National Guard's 103rd Rescue Squadron prep to spend a day on the snowmobile trails
Forest Rangers and members of New York
Air National Guard's 103rd Rescue Squadron
prepare to head out for a day on the snowmobile trails

Town of Hunter
Greene County
On March 7, DEC Central Dispatch received a call from a member of a four-person hiking group that needed assistance descending from Kaaterskill Falls. The group did not have proper traction devices for the icy conditions and were stuck in the middle of the falls. Forest Rangers Chris DiCintio, Jason Seeley, David Nally, and Katherine Fox responded to the area and provided the group with crampons and microspikes. The fourth individual had gotten stuck on a separate section of the falls, and one Ranger repelled down to assist the hiker to a safer area. Once the group was together, the Rangers hiked them out to the Laurel House parking lot. All members of the group were released in good health upon reaching their vehicles.

Town of Denning
Ulster County
On March 9, DEC Central Dispatch received a call from Sullivan County 911 regarding a 57-year-old man having chest pains while hiking to the top of Table Mountain in the Slide Mountain Wilderness Area. Communications were poor and the patient was nearly four miles from Denning Trailhead, which made the mountain rescue challenging. Three different groups of rescuers, including Forest Rangers, NYC Department of Environmental Protection Police, and local fire and EMS personnel made their way into the woods to assist the patient. Fortunately, a registered nurse was in the man's hiking group and able to assist the patient while the hikers waited for help to arrive. EMS personnel reached the patient, assessed his condition as stable, and began the carry out. Ranger Ken Gierloff met the group on the trail and brought the patient off the mountain via snowmobile. After six hours, the man was transported to Catskill Regional Medical Center for further care.

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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