Saturday, August 20, 2011

Valley Forge NHP - Final Week

We had the opportunity to participate in valuable training during our last week at Valley Forge. After a morning of patrol on the River trail and north end of the park, Ben and I took a trip to Independence to practice firearms simulation. Meeting with Dan and Sarah, we practiced basic firearms techniques before we did some scenarios using the simulator. The simulator emulated real life situations that required us to act quickly and accordingly in order to diffuse the problem. This activity gauged how we perform under stress by assessing our ability to pay attention to detail, make quick and accurate decisions, and figure out what level of force corresponded to each confrontation.

Wednesday we joined some LE officers and USDA officers for Defensive Tactics training in our Education Center. After a lecture about pathogens and communicable diseases in law enforcement, the class reviewed certain items that are on the utility belt. First we discussed the OC Pepper Spray, how and when to use it, and the effects it can have on people. Next, we practiced how to use the asp baton and the basic strokes that were most useful. We practiced the baton strikes on large mats so we could use full force. Last before lunch break, the class practiced useful hand-to-hand techniques if faced with a close quarters combat. These techniques are very useful if facing a life or death situation.

In the afternoon, we learned how to perform an arrest. Performing an arrest is the most dangerous aspect of the confrontation and can leave the officer vulnerable if done improperly. It is necessary to be assertive in letting the person know who you are and what you want them to do. Any sign of tepidness or uncertainty can escalate the situation and put you in a dangerous situation. We were taught how to disable the person, safely approach, then properly handcuff the offender. We practiced handcuffing both compliant and non-compliant offenders from the standing, kneeling and prone position.

Thursday morning we had to opportunity to continue working on an important project for Ranger Waterman. Earlier we had been organizing and stocking the EMS bags when they were called into service, so today we took the time to pick up where we left off. We created a template containing the supplies that should be in each area of the bag to make it easier to stock again in the future. The EMS bags are an important tool found in all of our patrol cars and it is vital that every Ranger has a well-stocked bag.

In the afternoon, we participated in patrolling with the rangers. Ben rode with Ranger Sassaman and me with our Supervisor, Ranger Valora. After reviewing the patrol vehicle, we each rode around the park on a typical patrol. Ranger Sassaman ran radar with Ben and Ranger Valora and I investigated numerous places in the park. Later, Ben and I rode with Ranger Eash and Ranger Bungard to experience a typical patrol with these officers. In Ranger Eash’s patrol vehicle, we clocked a motorcycle riding at high speeds through the park. He radioed ahead to Ranger Bungard sitting up the street with Ben to pull him over for speeding. After pulling the speeder over, I thought about the Defensive Tactics training from earlier when our Rangers were approaching the motorcyclist. Any stop could quickly turn for the worst, so its important to always be conscious of your training. Because of the high speed involved, our Rangers thought it best to issue the motorcyclist a ticket.

Friday, we went on a bike and hike trip with seasonal staff from Natural Resources and the YCC crew. We rode along the scenic Schuylkill River Trail, a multi-use trail that runs through the park and runs alongside the Schuylkill River from Center City Philadelphia through Montgomery County and into Chester County. We biked six miles on the trail and alongside the Schuylkill Canal to Lock 60, the only current functioning lock on the river, in Phoenixville. We visited the lock keepers house, a historic structure supported by the county, to listen to a talk on the history for the canal.

After visiting the lock, we hiked about a mile and a half to the next destination; an animal refuge for injured or unwanted animals. The majority of the farm park housed animals that were injured in the wild or born in captivity and could not reenter the population and animals that people had dropped off because they could not care for them. The types of animals were impressive; there were foxes, donkeys, a domesticated deer, many birds, hawks and even a bald eagle found shot in the wild. Before beginning our journey home, we visited the amphibian house that housed many local snakes, turtles and frogs, as well as a skunk that had been an unwanted pet donated by a local.

Saturday greeted us with beautiful weather. Throughout the day, the park was packed with people trying to enjoy the nice weather after weeks of excessive heat. We patrolled the River Trail in the morning and were surprised to see all of the lots full. The trail had many visitors so we interacted often with all types of people. Ranger Bungard treated us to pizza for lunch and we took the time to chat with him about his career with the park service. In the afternoon, we were up for a bit of a challenge and hiked an unmarked trail located on Mt. Misery. We finished our last day of our internship with some PT in the gym before wrapping it up.

Overall, the summer has been great to us and offered us both many new experiences. We are grateful for this wonderful opportunity to experience the National Park Service and everything Valley Forge National Historical Park has to offer. We both look forward to what a future with NPS has to offer.

Thanks for a great summer!

ProRangers Ben and Angela

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