NYS DEC Forest Rangers highlights rescue missions, responses to incidents

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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers has highlighted its rescue missions and responses to search incidents statewide.

While disclosing this in a statement, DEC Forest Rangers, stated that it works with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations, and volunteer search and rescue groups, to locate and extract lost, injured, or distressed people from across New York State.

It stated that in 2019, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 337 search and rescue missions.

Parts of its mission was the extinguishment of 74 wildfires that burned a total of 212 acres.

It also 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.

“They protect New York’s wildlife, natural resources, residents, and visitors for more than a century,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.

Seggos added that 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,” Seggos said.

The statement reports that on August 17, Forest Rangers Brand, Stratton, Martin, and Franke responded to the Giant Ledge Trail following a report of a female hiker with a right ankle injury.

Rangers Martin and Brand located the 28-year-old woman from Brooklyn, placed a splint on her injured leg, and packaged her up to be transported by litter to a waiting UTV.

“Rangers Stratton and Franke reported the subject was out of the woods and being treated by local EMS at the trailhead.

“Emergency personnel then transported the woman to a local hospital for additional treatment,” the statement reads.

Also, on August 18, DEC’s Central Dispatch received word that a 72-year-old hiker from East Hills had suffered an unstable lower leg injury on the Escarpment Trail, south of Sunset Rock.

Forest Rangers Breigle, Dawson, Fox, Assistant Forest Ranger France, and members of the Haines Falls Fire Department, Tannersville Rescue Squad, and a Greene County Paramedic responded to assist.

“Once on scene, Forest Rangers hiked in and located the injured hiker less than a mile from the trailhead.

“The Rangers splinted the woman’s ankle, packaged her in a Stokes basket with a rescue wheel, and carried her out to the trailhead using rope rescue techniques.

“After being brought out to North/South Lake Campground at 5:10 p.m., the hiker was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment,” the statement reports.

On August 18, Forest Ranger Captain Streiff, Lieutenant Harjung, and Ranger Burns responded to assist a 20-year-old man from Norwich who was having seizures on the Adirondack Mountain Club property on Mount Jo.

Another rescue mission of Forest Rangers was on August 18.

DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from a family of lost hikers on Whiteface Mountain.

The hikers, from Johnstown, called from a shed in the Whiteface Ski Area near the Lookout Lift, stating they had been caught in a downpour and were too cold to continue after getting lost on the trails without a map.

Forest Ranger Burns responded and hiked a half-mile to their location from the road.

He gave them jackets, flashlights, and handwarmers before beginning the walk back to his vehicle.

Ranger Burns transported the family back to their car at the Wilmington Reservoir to return to their campsite at the North Pole campground.

A 19-year-old woman left her residence in Old Forge for a five-mile run and did not return home when expected.

At 10 p.m., the woman’s parents called police and at midnight Forest Rangers were requested to assist searching all the area trails.

Twelve Forest Rangers responded along with 24 New York State Police Officers from Patrol, Special Operations, K9, and Aviation, and six State Police Criminal Investigators.

Also assisting were six Town of Webb Police Officers, more than 100 volunteers from the Inlet, Eagle Bay, Big Moose, and Old Forge fire departments, and area residents. Search teams found the subject the next day in Old Forge at approximately 10:30 a.m.

The woman said she had been running on the Big Otter Trail in the HaDaRonDah Wilderness Area when she encountered two bear cubs.

“The mother chased me through the woods and I climbed a tree to escape.

“After darkness came, the bears seemed to have left, but the I stayed in the tree until daylight and used the morning sun to navigate back to the trail and walk back to Old Forge where she was found by the search team,” the woman said.

On August 20, Hamilton County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from a lost hiker on Owls Head Mountain in the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest.

Forest Rangers Temple, Scott, and DiCintio responded to the trailhead.

With no coordinates from the dropped call, New York State Police Aviation was called in with Forest Ranger Praczkajlo to search the marshy areas where the subject was believed to be.

Coordinates obtained through a 911 callback placed the hiker in a marshland just off the south side of the mountain.

Dispatch was notified that the 69-year-old hiker from Baltimore, Maryland, had been located and reunited with her family.

Lost hiker assisted by Forest Ranger after being lost in the Sargent Ponds Wild Forest.

August 20, Essex County 911 transferred a call to DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch from a father reporting his 13-year-old son was overdue from mountain biking on the Wilmington Trails in the Wilmington Wild Forest.

Per Forest Ranger Lt. Kostoss, Forest Ranger LaPierre was requested to respond to check adjoining trailheads to see if she could locate the boy from Waterloo. At 6:30 p m., Forest Ranger LaPierre located the boy at the Wilmington Notch Campground and waited with him until his father arrived.

On August 22 at 11:37 a.m., DEC’s Central Dispatch contacted Forest Ranger Fox regarding a 14-year-old hiker from Queens with a suspected leg injury on the yellow trail to Kaaterskill Falls.

Forest Rangers Fox, Jackson, and Skudlarek responded to assist.

Once on scene, Forest Rangers and EMS provided first aid, packaged up the hiker, and using technical rope systems, raised the hiker from the bottom of the falls.

The hiker was then assisted out using a trail to 23A, reaching the road at 2:15 p.m.

She was subsequently transported to a local hospital by Hunter Ambulance for further medical treatment.

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