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For Release: Wednesday, February 12, 2020

DEC Statewide Forest Ranger Highlights

Forest Ranger Actions from February 3 to February 9, 2020

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 2019, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 337 search and rescue missions, extinguished 74 wildfires that burned a total of 212 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 645 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in 2,507 tickets or arrests.

"DEC celebrates our 50th anniversary this year, but our Forest Rangers have been on the front lines for even longer, protecting New York's wildlife, natural resources, residents, and visitors for more than a century," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "The state's brave Forest Rangers have a vast knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques that are critical to the success of their missions in remote wilderness areas, rugged mountainous peaks, white-water rivers, frozen lakes, and forested areas statewide. We are proud of the work our Forest Rangers perform and look forward to another 50 years and beyond of highly trained service."

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 3 at 2:30 p.m., Forest Ranger Matthew Savarie overheard radio communications from Herkimer County 911 about a snowmobile crash with injuries. A short time later, Chief Ron Johnston of the Town of Webb Police Department requested Forest Ranger assistance. Forest Rangers Savarie and Brandon Poulton responded to the accident location where a 50-year-old man from Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, had lost control of his snowmobile and was ejected into a tree. The first-time snowmobiler suffered multiple injuries and was kept comfortable by Rangers Savarie and Poulton until Big Moose EMS arrived. The subject was transported by Mercy Flight to a hospital in Syracuse for further treatment. Forest Rangers waited at the location until the snowmobile towing service arrived and were cleared of the scene at approximately 6 p.m.

Town of Long Lake
Hamilton County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 5 at 4:59 p.m., DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Hamilton County 911 reporting that Long Lake EMS was responding to a snowmobile accident on state land. The snowmobiler struck a tree behind a home just outside of Long Lake. Forest Ranger Jason Scott responded and found that the 48-year-old man from Ballston Spa was out of the woods and being treated by Long Lake EMS. Forest Ranger Scott remained at the location to assist State Police with the accident report.

Town of Babylon and City of Lindenhurst
Suffolk County
Community Outreach:
On Feb. 5, the Suffolk County Explorers invited Forest Rangers Joseph Pries, John Scott, and Scott Hicks to give a presentation about the duties of a Forest Ranger. Sponsored by the Suffolk County Police Department, the Explorers are a group of young adults, aged 14 - 21, interested in law enforcement careers. The Rangers shared detailed descriptions of a Forest Ranger's duties, roles in search and rescue efforts, fighting and managing wildland fires, and the police basic training academy. The Rangers also displayed a wide range of equipment such as the Forest Ranger police patrol uniform and duty belt, ice rescue suits, wildland fire packs, technical rope rescue equipment, and a multitude of other safety and law enforcement tools. The 13 Explorers and six group advisors were engaged and inquisitive and many of the young Explorers expressed a keen interest in applying for the next Forest Ranger Civil Service exam.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
On Feb. 6 at 3:29 p.m., a call came into DEC's Ray Brook Dispatch from inReach GPS services reporting a distress signal from a group of hikers on the Phelps Trail in the High Peaks Wilderness, including a 61-year-old male hiker from Brooklyn who was vomiting from severe dehydration. The hikers managed to make it slowly down to the Slant Rock lean-to where they warmed up, started a fire, and changed into dry clothes. The hiking party was requesting assistance in getting back to their camp at Peggy-O Cabin. Forest Rangers Kevin Burns, Peter Evans, James Giglinto, Jamison Martin, Robbi Mecus, Art Perryman, Rob Praczkajlo, Scott Sabo, and Mark St. Claire responded with snowmobiles and a UTV for quicker access into Johns Brook Lodge, which brought them closer to the ill hiker. At 6:45 p.m., Forest Rangers assisted the hiker to a waiting ambulance. At 10:18 p.m., the hiker was transported by Keene Valley Ambulance to a local hospital for treatment of hypothermia and dehydration.

Town of Cheektowaga
Erie County
Public Outreach:
On Feb. 8, at the annual Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve's Winter Wonderland event, Forest Rangers John Kennedy, Justin Thaine, Wayne Krulish, and Zack Robitaille led a flat ice rescue presentation. The Rangers demonstrated various techniques to rescue a subject who breaks through the ice and used rescue tools to show how to perform a self-rescue. Approximately 65 people attended the demonstration.

DEC reminds New Yorkers to be safe when heading out on the ice. The presence of snowmobile tracks or footprints on the ice should not be taken as evidence of safe ice conditions. Individuals are strongly encouraged to check ice conditions and avoid situations that appear to present even a remote risk. For more information about being safe on the ice, go to DEC's Ice Fishing website.

Two Forest Rangers practice flat ice rescue techniquesThree forest rangers practice flat ice rescue techniques
Forest Rangers give flat ice rescue presentation

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

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