Monday, July 25, 2011

Amber Hagan-Prince William Forest Park Week 9

This week at the park was spent covering the Manassas 150th anniversary of the first battle of the civil war. This has been one of the most exhausting weeks of my life, but I think I may have said that for leadership camp week, too.
The week started off for me with a Wednesday evening 2-10 shift. We went to work, organized and planned with the EMT coordinator, met with Dave, and went to Manassas for a 2 hour meeting to brief the staff on the event. This meeting introduced the members of the incident command team and the incident commander. It also provided us with vital information for the weekend-long event. We met up with two other ProRangers, Cailin Bean and Jim Scanlan, and they came back to our house with us where they stayed for the weekend.
Thursday was our first day at the Manassas event. Cailin and Jim followed us in Chris Alford’s vehicle and we all arrived at 6am. We met Lita another ProRanger, at this time. Our main priority was parking people for the weekend, but Charles and I also had medical duties as well. Thursday was the most tiresome, long day we had. The temperatures went up so quickly that by 8am we were all very hot, sticky, and tired. This created a challenge for our team, but we organized an alternate plan. We began to take very frequent breaks and started alternating each other into air conditioned vehicles. It began that we would take a break at an hour in a half, then an hour, then 45 minutes, and by the afternoon we were rotating into breaks every 15-30 minutes. The heat got so unbearable in the 11am-4pm hours that we couldn’t bear to stand in it for much longer than that. The incident command team reassessed the parking operation for the next day and adjusted it. The felt the danger for us was much higher due to the heat and began to place a car at each parking post for people to rotate in and out of all day every 15-20 minutes. We also got to wear our ProRanger polo’s and kakis instead of our heavier park service uniform. The new adjustments helped us all immensely. Thursday ended up being a 13 hour day, as we had suspected and we got home at 7pm.
Friday was a much easier day for us because we worked 7am until 3 or 4. Another ProRanger, Tia, arrived for the weekend. We were intended to be there until 6pm, but were replaced with the law enforcement rangers for the evening and let go early to recover. Friday our duties were the same, parking, parking, parking! I have definitely secured my flagging abilities throughout this event. Due to the extreme heat, we again adjusted our schedules for Saturday. Mark Clarke and Jay Copper would be joining us for Saturday and Sunday, two more ProRangers. We arranged to split the shift for Saturday so that Jim, Cailin, Charles and I would stay together and Tia, Lita, Mark and Jay would be together. They worked 7-3 and we Worked 12-9. Wayne Lamb, another ProRanger arrived at our home, but he was there on leisure time not for work. Wayne stayed with us and we all enjoyed bonding together for the weekend.
Saturday, Charles and I were taken off of parking duties and placed in medical tent 3, which just so happened to be located in the parking lot 50 yards from where the parking operations were taking place. Needless to say, we didn’t go far. Charles and I stayed at the tent with Neil, an interpretive Ranger from the mall in D.C. and when tent 2 was taken down their staff joined is. Prior to their staff joining us we had spent a lot of time roving throughout the park. Charles and I alternated staying at the tent while the other went roving with either Jim or Cailin, who were also alternating. We drove through the visitor’s lot and other lots a lot looking for patients. We didn’t find any, which is what we wanted. HHS and NPS staff joined us for the remainder of the evening. Jeanne Feltes was among the NPS staff. Neil and Jeanne were both a true pleasure to be around. The HHS staff was very knowledgeable and also a pleasure to be around. Our goal for the day was to be at the tent, but we proactively offered water to people from the coolers. Our table had two water coolers with cups and a lot of sunscreen. If we saw somebody approaching heading to the visitor’s center not carrying water, we stopped them and encouraged them to drink. People heading back from the visitors center were approached as well. We had a lot of good conversations and interactions with our visitors and this really enhanced the experience for everybody involved. The best medical advice you can offer the visitor is to actively prevent a medical emergency by keeping your body hydrated. I think we all worked together to make sure this was happening. We had one patient for our tent and this was a woman who had fallen down. She had a contusion on her leg and blood pulling under her toenail. The ice pack we popped open wasn’t very cold so we decided to use ice from the cooler. We did not have any bags to put it in so I improvised and grabbed a medical glove and placed ice in it and handed it to the HHS staff that held it against her knee. They are registered nurses and administered the woman pain medication. Due to this administration they had to take her vitals. This was a great learning experience for me.
After this patient we continued to give visitors water. Our shift ended and we arrived home at 9pm.
Sunday was our final day and we began work at 7am. Charles and I were EMS again and we split our time between medical tent 1 and 3. Chris Alford took us in shifts to tent 1 with him. I took the first shift and really enjoyed myself. This was my first time being away from Chinn Ridge parking and I was able to see what activities were going on at the visitor’s center. We set up tent 1 and got it ready for operation. I was able to meet the previous Chief Ranger at Prince William Forest Park, Chip, and I enjoyed talking with him. Chip has a great sense of humor. I located Melissa Brown in the crowd and invited her to join me at the mule. I worked at Monocacy National Battlefield last summer and Melissa is an LE Ranger there. Chris informed me that we would be taking the mule, which is fully altered to be a medical/police ATV, to follow the walking tour at 10am. We invited Melissa to join and she did. We didn’t have any medical issues during this time and concluded and returned to the tent. There was a canon firing demonstration at 12pm, which Chris Alford let me take the mule to attend for personal experience and to watch for medical incidents. I thoroughly enjoyed the demonstration and learned a ton about canon firing. This was my first opportunity to actually learn something at this event. Although we were there the entire weekend, there just wasn’t time to attend any of these events due to our duties. None of us really seemed to mind as we were all having fun, but the canon firing was very entertaining and I’m glad I could be there for that.
I returned to tent 3 after lunch and switched with Charles. I stayed at this tent for hours offering water to visitors.I had good conversations with the HHS staff. I was taken from the tent and sent back to parking later in the evening. Shortly after, they had a patient with chest pains, which Neil handled very well. Cindy Sirk-Fear and Chris Alford arrived on scene with an AED within minutes. The man was given oxygen and his conditioned drastically improved. The ambulance arrived and he was able to walk to it on his own.
To end the day we picked up cones, flags, and trash. We said goodbye to everybody and were sent to DEMOB at the incident command post. This experience showed me for my first time what is was like to work within the National Incident Management System. The planning for this event was incredible and teamwork is what made it run so smoothly. I am really pleased to have been a part of this event. It could not have happened had we not all worked together so well to keep each other safe from the heat. Another great experience during my internship. We didn't get to take any photos so I uploaded a video from a few weeks back when we were at the range for the day.

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