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For Release: Tuesday, July 2, 2019

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions for 6/24/19 - 6/30/19

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 Boonville
Oneida County
Water Rescue:
On June 19 at approximately 4:50 p.m., while recreating with friends and family at Pixley Falls State Park, off-duty Forest Ranger Lieutenant Gregory Hoag observed two children swimming near the falls. The current below the falls was significant and caught the children by surprise, pulling them dangerously close to the cascading water. One of the two children, a seven-year-old boy, was suddenly pulled under by the current. Lt. Hoag sprinted to the base of the falls and jumped in, locating the boy moments later, and pulling him out of the water. Simultaneously, the boy's sister attempted to help her brother and was also overcome. Oneida City School District teacher Peter Gillander was nearby and jumped in and rescued the second child. Hoag brought the young boy to shore where he indicated he did not feel well. With no cell service at this location, Hoag asked Gillander to go to the park entrance to call Oneida County 911. The boy was transported to the local hospital for precautionary reasons, and Hoag was informed later that evening by New York State Police that the two children were in good condition.

Town of Fort Ann
Washington County
On June 24 at 11:11 a.m., Washington County 911 contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch regarding a broken cell phone call that originated with Warren County 911. The caller stated that a female hiker from Voorheesville was suffering a cardiac event. Coordinates were obtained, placing the party at Shelving Rock Mountain. Forest Rangers Logan Quinn and Joseph Hess responded. Forest Ranger Quinn reached the coordinates and requested dispatch to re-contact the caller for their location. Dispatch attempted to call the reporting party and texted. Ranger Quinn reached the hiking party at the summit of Shelving Rock at 12:22 p.m., and immediately began assisting with CPR, which had been in progress for approximately one hour. Bay Ridge Advanced Life Support EMS personnel arrived a few minutes later. The 51-year-old hiker was declared deceased at 12:36 p.m. DEC's Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation (BECI) investigators and the Washington County Coroner's Office were notified and responded. The incident concluded at 2:36 p.m.

Town of Santa Clara
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 24 at 2:42 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from two hikers in their late 60s on Saint Regis Mountain. The callers reported that they lost the trail on their way off the mountain and were unable to relocate it. Coordinates obtained from their cell phone placed the pair at 2,500 feet in elevation, just south of the trail in a drainage on the west side of the peak. The 64-year-old male and 68-year-old female from North Bangor were asked to remain in place. Forest Rangers Scott Sabo, Megan McCone, and Thomas Gliddi, as well as Assistant Forest Ranger Gregory Bowler, responded to begin search efforts. After yelling for help, the hikers managed to get voice contact with other hikers on the mountain and directed the lost pair to the trail. Upon arriving, the couple started to hike down and met Forest Ranger Sabo. The lost hikers had minimal gear and did not have a compass or enough water for the hike. Forest Ranger Sabo gave the hikers his water and walked them back out, arriving at the trailhead at 5:43 p.m.

Town of Brighton
Franklin County
On June 24, Region 5 Forest Ranger Megan McCone met with staff from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) Northeast Program. The school in Landers, Wyoming, established the Northeast Program nine years ago near Paul Smith's College to utilize the Adirondack Park for its outdoor classrooms. Forest Ranger McCone's presentation was based on NOLS Crisis Management training, which includes helicopter evacuations, Personal Locater Beacons (PLBs), and how to respond with Forest Rangers to serious backcountry medical incidents involving their students.

Forest Ranger sitting at a table with NOLS students, giving them informational training
Forest Ranger Megan McCone discusses rescue preparation with NOLS staff

Village of Oriskany
Oneida County
From June 24 to 28, a FEMA Situation Unit Leader Course was held at the State Preparedness Training Center in Oriskany. Six DEC Forest Rangers attended along with DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), county, state, and federal partners, private organizations like the Red Cross, and a host of volunteers. State Incident Management Team (IMT) members directed the course and covered collecting and organizing incident status information and evaluating, analyzing, and displaying that information for use by ICS personnel and agency dispatchers during emergency incidents.

Emergency responders pose for a picture outside the State Preparedness Training Center on a sunny day
Emergency response personnel training at State Preparedness
Training Center in Oriskany

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Overdue Fisherman:
On June 26 at 10:47 p.m., Herkimer County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a missing 75-year-old male who had been fishing on Stillwater Reservoir. When the fisherman from Webb didn't come home for dinner, his wife became concerned and reached out to 911. Family members, prior to calling, tried to locate the angler with no luck. The subject was last known to have put his boat in by the dam near their camp and was fishing alone. Forest Rangers Matthew Savarie and Luke Evans responded around midnight and search efforts began with the aid of Town of Webb Police Department staff. At 2:45 a.m., Forest Rangers reported that the fisherman was located in good health near Devil's Hole. His boat had run out of gas. The incident concluded at 4:02 a.m.

Town of Wallkill
Orange County
On June 27 at 2:40 p.m., DEC's Central Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance after MTA workers reported a three-year-old girl wandering alone in the area of Maples Road. The mother was observed walking with the child earlier in the day. After several hours of attempting to locate the 28-year-old mother, Wallkill Police requested Forest Ranger assistance. Along with DEC's Division of Law Enforcement, 10 Forest Rangers responded and organized Orange County Sheriff's office, local fire departments, volunteers, and EMS personnel into crews to search wooded areas near the railroad tracks where the child was found. Around 6:30 p.m., a Ranger-led crew located the mother in the wooded area. She was treated by EMS personnel and reunited with her daughter.

Town of Harrietstown
Franklin County
Wilderness Rescue
: On June 27 at 6:35 p.m., Franklin County 911 transferred a call to DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting that a 36-year-old male from Saranac Lake became disoriented while descending Ampersand Mountain. Coordinates placed the subject on the north side of the mountain on an old herd path. Forest Ranger Kevin Burns made phone contact with the hiker and advised him to return to the summit and call Franklin County 911. Upon his return to the summit, the hiker called Franklin County 911, and coordinates placed him near the trail. Forest Ranger Burns gave the hiker directions to find the trail and the subject located it at 7:14 p.m. Ranger Burns then instructed the hiker to start descending the mountain while he continued in on foot. Locating the hiker on the trail at 8 p.m., Burns determined the hiker was suffering from leg cramps due to dehydration. The Forest Ranger provided the hiker with water and escorted him back to the trailhead by 8:30 p.m.

Town of Indian Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On June 28 at 1:15 p.m., Hamilton County 911 contacted DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch reporting a 69-year-old female hiker from Andover, Mass., on Blue Mountain with a sustained ankle injury. The hiking party of two was being assisted by the Blue Mountain Summit Steward roughly one quarter of a mile off the summit. While descending the peak, the female hiker made a wrong step and sustained a non-weight bearing injury. Rangers Lomnitzer, Kallen, Waters, and Kabrehl responded with the Blue Mountain VFD to bring the woman off the mountain. Rangers and volunteers accessed the summit using the tower maintenance road and hiked down to the two hikers. The woman's injury was stabilized, she was carried to a waiting Ranger vehicle, and quickly brought out to a local ambulance for further medical treatment by 4:15 p.m.

City of Saratoga Springs
Saratoga County
Missing Vulnerable Adult:
On June 28 around 4 p.m., Forest Rangers were contacted by the Saratoga Springs Police Department requesting assistance in locating a 61-year-old male from Saratoga Springs reported as missing since 4:30 a.m. Local fire department, police, county police, and Saratoga State Park Police joined in the search efforts, which continued into the next day with an expansion into the Saratoga Spa State Park and Saratoga Casino Hotel properties. At 9:50 a.m. on June 29, the missing man was found near the Saratoga Casino Hotel in the village of Saratoga Springs by a security worker. He was found in good condition and was evaluated by local EMS personnel.

Town of East Aurora
Erie County
Rescue Training:
On June 29, Forest Rangers participated in a rope training drill with approximately 40 members of an Erie/Cattaraugus County regional rope rescue team. The team is made up of trained and qualified members from across many disciplines (fire, police, SAR volunteers, and EMTs) that drill periodically to enhance their capabilities and learn to work and communicate with members outside their agency. The drill scenario included five "victims," that had to be retrieved after a vehicle crash off a bridge. Participants included volunteer firefighters and EMT personnel from Seneca Hose, East Aurora, Eden, West Falls, Hillcrest, Erie County DHSES, Orchard Park, Niagara Frontier SAR, East Aurora PD, Eden Emergency Squad, and Erie County Sheriff's SWAT.

Forest Ranger training with ropes and rescue equipment on the side of a bridge
Forest Rangers practicing rope training and extraction off the side of a bridge
Forest Rangers train in a rope rescue scenario involving a
car crash off a bridge

Town of Canton
St. Lawrence County
Wetland Habitat Water Levels:
On June 29, Region 6 Forest Rangers and Division of Wildlife staff utilized a drone to develop a photographic baseline of high, medium, and low water levels of Blanding's turtle wetland habitat and nesting areas on the Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area. This mission documented the area of the WMA covered by water at high water levels. At the time of the flight, the water levels were approximately one foot above management target levels. This work will allow wildlife staff to better plan the future management on the WMA for this endangered turtle.

Forest Rangers and DEC Staff standing on a dock in the wetlands, utilizing a drone remote
Photo of a dark green and yellow turtle in some shallow water
DEC staff using a drone to document natural areas and
habitat for the Blanding's turtle

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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