Thursday, June 2, 2011

Week 3-Amber Hagan/Charles Papacostas-Prince William Forest Park

Our third week at the park has been filled with variety. Charles and I were back with Law Enforcement this week. To start off the week we worked the 2-10 shift with Ranger Ken. Ken is a true pleasure to be around and an outstanding resource for anybody who wants to know how to do this job correctly and efficiently. He has second-to-none documentation skills and is very talented at sighting illegal activity. Ken is not only efficient, he is friendly, polite, and courteous to anybody he approaches. We were able to listen to a recording of a contact he was on the week prior to this and I was highly impressed by the way he controlled the scene. Ken should be a model for how to handle a scene safely, with courtesy, and professionally.

We spent a lot of the day working on paperwork for the case, which was surprisingly very exciting and informative. In the evening we patrolled the park and had dinner with a camp host. We locked the gates, debriefed, and went home. Ranger Ken taught us about professionalism, orientating yourself in the park, debriefing after each case, and probable cause reports. These aspects are a significant part of the agency and operations. Without the report, there would be no case. Ranger Ken taught us about the Law Enforcement aspect of the National Park Service. What we learned was not surprising, but vital.
Our second day of the week we rode with Russell. Ranger Russell has a completely different approach to his job than every ranger I've met. That is what is so wonderful about the park service: All Rangers have the same job, and perform adequately, just different. The diversity among the staff is sensational. Russell took us on patrol for a large portion of the day. We got out of the vehicle and hiked to the Pyrite mine, which is now filled and in rehabilitated. Russell also showed us the inside of a few of the cabin camps and the lake in his backyard(on park property).

We enjoyed our time with Russell and Ken equally. Our ProRanger friend, Wayne Lamb, came to our park and is staying with us for the weekend. Wayne is from Colonial and is participating in the same activities that we are. We took Wayne to our house and then met back up with Russell to do more patrolling. We visited every location in the park. We locked the gates and inquired about a suspicious vehicle still in the park after hours. After this inquiry we got in our vehicles to leave for the day and Russell called us over the radio for assistance. We located him and came across an Oak tree that had fallen into the road and was blocking both sides. We assisted Russell in removing the tree. He sawed the tree and we moved the pieces after wards. This incident taught us that in the National Park Service, anything can happen anytime. Again, however, not to our surprise. We finished with the tree and went home.

Day 3 was our firefighter training day. We arrived to do our training only to find out there was a suicide in the park. The suspicious vehicle from the evening before turned out to be a suicide. This was a sad time for everybody and our supervisor kept us far from the crime scene as to not expose us to that. After leaving the scene, we drove down to the the maintenance yard and met several other prorangers at the fire cache. There we met Rocky, who led the field exercises for the day. First, he supervised our pack test, which we completed on the park's Scenic Drive.
Afterward, we moved on to learn about fire shelters. We all received instruction on how to properly deploy the shelter, and Rocky had us take part in several drills to practice and learn to complete the process in an efficient and timely manner. After lunch, we all were handed firefighting gear and drove out to Cabin Camp 3 to practice digging fire lines. Each of us got experience with several of the tools used to created fire lines such as council rakes, pulaskis, fire shovels, and the McCloud. We dug two chains of fire line in the woods before cleaning up and then heading back to the fire cache to practice lining up the hoses.

We completed a couple of drills, one where we had the hoses extend from the fire apparatus, and the other from a fire hydrant. This was the final exercise of the day, and it was fun to work as a team to set up the hose line. Wildland firefighting was hard work, but interesting and fun, and certainly more than a worthwhile experience. On Friday, we will close out the week by going to Harper's Ferry to complete the defensive driving course, and next week we will be with administration.

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