Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Antietam National Battlefield- Week 3

Hello all,

This week at Antietam National Battlefield has been very busy and informative. We began this week on Saturday May 26th at the Memorial Day celebration in Sharpsburg Maryland. The festivities began with a parade through the Town of Sharpsburg, which was led Antietam Superintendent Susan Trail. Sharpsburg's Memorial Day parade is one of the longest-running Memorial Day parades in the United States. This years parade marked the 145th parade through Sharpsburg. During the parade I was stationed at the National Cemetery to help guide parade floats and attendees into the Cemetery for the Memorial Day ceremony. Before the end of the parade Antietam Rangers received a call at another location off of the battlefield. In turn, I was reassigned to direct traffic around the parade while the other Rangers responded to the call. Once the parade was finished, we reopened the road to traffic and reported to the National Cemetery for the special ceremony. At the conclusion of the event, all of the Rangers assisted the maintenance staff in cleaning the cemetery grounds and loading the equipment that was used for the event. This was great example of several park divisions working together to serve the park visitors!

On Tuesday May 30th we reported to the park for our scheduled tour of duty. After a morning patrol of the park area, our supervisor Ranger Jones reviewed the Park Compendium and showed us the different law enforcement policies that are available to Rangers.  The Park Compendium is a valuable tool for all employees at National Park Units. Using this document, the Superintendent has the authority to authorize and prohibit specific acts that apply to their park unit. The compendium is reviewed and revised annually and is available to park visitors online or by mail. Next, Ranger Jones showed us how to enter an incident into the Case Incident Reporting System and the process that follows. This is another important tool used by the law enforcement staff to track case incidents and provide additional information about the incident.

Wednesday was another busy day here at Antietam National Battlefield. Due to several heavy thunderstorms the park suffered minor damage during the overnight hours. Wednesday morning Morgan and I hiked the West Woods trail to help locate downed trees and other damage from the storms. Later in the day we also hiked several other trails with our Natural Resources staff to assist them in removing fallen trees. This is an extremely important task that is necessary to keep park visitors safe while they are enjoying Antietam's trail system. This work would continue through the remainder of the week as more storms continued to damage the area.

Thursday was our first opportunity to work the "late shift" at the park. This shift includes the additional responsibilities of closing the park for the night, and checking for visitors that may still be enjoying the battlefield. In addition to the law enforcement responsibilities, we also assisted the interpretative staff in closing the visitor center. This was a great opportunity to see the various tasks that must be done every night before the park closes.

On Friday we reported to the Ranger Station for our final work day of the week. Morgan and I quickly headed out to the park's trail system in order to check for any fallen trees from the night before. We hiked both the Snavely's Ford trail, and the Final Attack trail and found one tree that needed removed. These trails also allowed us to learn more of the history here at Antietam and explore the area where the last hours of the battle took place. Our next assignment for the day involved driving the the National Capital Region Communications Center to shadow the dispatch staff. While at "Central" we listened to the radio calls and learned about the different systems that the staff uses to assist the Rangers in the field. In addition, the communications supervisor explained to us how radio repeater systems operate, and showed us a portable system that is being planned for upcoming events.

This week provided Morgan and I with more great opportunities to learn about park operations and experience the different duties of a National Park Service employee. Next week we will be patrolling the park with the Law Enforcement Division as we continue to gain valuable skills and knowledge. Continue to check the blog for more pictures and updates from Antietam!

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