Saturday, July 14, 2012

Mount Rushmore- Weeks 8 & 9

I apologize for the delay in my weekly postings; I was put on an eight day (July 3 to July 9) fire detail as a driver which restricted my internet access!  My week started out by hanging smoking ban signs throughout the park to notify visitors of the park’s fire and smoking ban due to the extremely dry conditions.  I posted the signs at the entrances to the bathrooms, the Presidential Trail, the Information and Visitor Center, as well as the gift shop and park restaurant.  This smoking ban is still in effect. 

View of White Draw from the road.
By the end of the day I was informed that the local Northern Great Plains Dispatch needed additional drivers to help with the local fires in the area.  My Supervisor and Chief came to me to see if I’d be interested and I jumped at the opportunity.  When I reported to the expanded dispatch they updated me on the tasks that would need to be completed and what fire we’d be working with.  My eight-twelve plus hour days consisted of picking up fire crew at the Rapid City Airport and delivering them to the ICP in Edgemont, SD so they could begin their work on the White Draw fire.  We also were tasked with delivering various items that were needed at ICP.  For those of you who have been tuned into the fire updates, White Draw is the same fire at which the C-130 plane unfortunately crashed.  There was not much information given about the crash or how it occurred but it is an extremely unfortunate event that affects everyone.  By July 7th the fire was mainly under control and we began picking people and rental cars up to take back to the airport.  It was a great opportunity and my first exposure to working with a wildland fire dispatch crew.  This experience showed me how important every single person’s job is when being involved with a wildland fire even if you are not on the fireline physically fighting the fire.
Once I was back on a regular shift at the park I spent my day doing a well needed ride along!  I rode with Ranger Kimball making our rounds through the park.  We came along an “abandoned” 18 wheeler trailer in one of the turnoffs in the park.  Commercial vehicle travel is prohibited through the park and can result in a $250 fine.  Kimball said that the driver most likely saw the signs for no commercial vehicles and decided to drop off the trailer while he drove the tractor up to the park.  We drove back up to the park entrance and saw the driver heading back down the hill.  We followed him back down to his trailer and then gave him a verbal warning informing him that he was still in the park and cannot drive the trailer on National Park Service land.  This stop prompted a conversation about Fourth Amendment rights regarding search and seizure.  Kimball gave me several scenarios about when a LE officer can or cannot search a car and/or driver while on a traffic stop.  She told me that this is one of the most important amendments to know as a law enforcement officer that will be used very often.
Ranger Joe Turgyan and I did a Chain Saws field day reviewing how to limb, buck, and fall trees.  It was both fun and a little nerve wrecking to finally be working with a chain saw.  If I were to be certified, I would be able to be a wildland fire sawyer for trees that are eight DVH.

Beginning the face cut.

Starting the back cut.
Hammering in the wedges.
Successful fall.
I also participated in visitor crowd control when there was the discovery of an unknown substance within park storage.  We had to clear the Presidential Trail until the substance could be identified.  It is very important to only reveal certain information when regarding events that could cause panic.  We could only tell visitors that there was maintenance on the trail so they would not panic and possibly turn a controlled event into a chaotic one.  Everything turned out fine and the substance ended up being Tellurium which is used in metallurgy and can be used as pigment in paint.        
The week ended with some unfortunate excitement.  We received a call of a one-person injury car accident with a possible heart attack.  However, the location of this accident was not very clear and it was several minutes before any rangers could respond.  Ranger Grego was the first on scene (in the park parking garage) and was informed that a man had had a heart attack while at the wheel of his car.  Grego got the man out of the car and immediately began CPR.  Ranger Kinkade and myself began directing traffic around the accident and also made room for the ambulance to arrive.  The visitor was given five rounds of the AED machine before the ambulance arrived and took the man away.  We were later informed that they called the man’s time of death en route to the hospital.  The rangers told me that there is usually a park fatality here once every other year or so and is usually related to some type of cardiac arrest or heart attack.  This was the first major medical that I have been to and it showed me the absolute importance of remaining calm and assertive while dealing with serious medicals. 
I cannot believe we only have two weeks left at our parks! I am looking forward to seeing everyone at Leadership Camp!
ProRanger Erin Langeheine  

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