Friday, May 31, 2013

Cape Hatteras National Seashore- Week 1

ProRangers and Followers,

The first ten days here at Cape Hatteras National Seashore have been full of action and excitement! Since arriving in Cape Hatteras less than two weeks ago, I have experienced the in's and out's of working in a beach environment. Cape Hatteras in a unique park that is spread out over 70 miles of barrier islands. Cape Hatteras National Seashore is included in a larger group of parks called the Outer Banks Group, (Cape Hatteras, Fort Raleigh Historic Site, and Wright Brothers National Memorial) that share management and resources. During my internship  I will be working in the Hatteras District of the Seashore. This district covers approximately 30 miles of coastline and is the busiest district of the park.

My first day at Cape Hatteras was spent at the Park Headquarters in Manteo, North Carolina. Manteo is located on Roanoke Island, which is about an hour drive from the Hatteras District. Therefore, Ranger Krebs (my supervisor) and I completed multiple tasks while we were in the area. At Headquarters, I was introduced to the park Superintendent Barclay Trimble and Chief Ranger Paul Stevens. I also was introduced to several administrative personnel as I completed my check-in paperwork.

After leaving Park Headquarters, Ranger Krebs and I went to the Dare County Communications Center. Dare County dispatches for the Law Enforcement Rangers at Cape Hatteras, so this was a great opportunity to put faces to the voices that we hear on the radio. While at dispatch, we talked with several dispatchers and  asked them if they had any suggestions for our communications. This meeting is a great example of different agencies working together to achieve a common goal. It takes cooperation and teamwork from both sides in order to safely respond and handle incidents. After our meeting with the dispatchers, we were able to pass on communications tips to other Park Service staff and improve communications for the busy Memorial Day weekend.

Following a busy first day at Headquarters, I spent the second day at Cape Hatteras attending CPR training. Every year, the park conducts a CPR class for the NPS Lifeguards at Cape Hatteras. CPR is a critical skill at any park, but it is especially important at a beach park where water rescues are frequent. This class allowed me to refresh my CPR knowledge and practice CPR and AED skills. Additionally, the class gave me an opportunity to work with the lifeguards and learn from there experiences. The instructor of the class was a seasoned lifeguard and was able to relate the CPR lessons to real-world situations. In turn, I learned the skills and how they might be used during a water rescue.

Day number three at the park was my first full day on patrol! After spending the first two days completing administrative tasks and training, I was ready to experience a full day of patrol. On this day, I was supervised my Ranger Malionek. This first day of patrol set the tone for a busy weekend at Cape Hatteras. Ranger Malionek and I patrolled the beaches by vehicle, checking to insure that all Off-Road Vehicle (ORV's) had valid permits and that no one was driving in restricted or closed areas. Over the last two years, Cape Hatteras has implemented a permit system in order to protect the beach and wildlife from beach driving. In order to drive on the beach, visitors must purchase a weekly or annual permit that gives them access to certain beach areas in the park. A major function of the Rangers here is to check vehicles for permits and make sure that the visitors are following all of the regulations.
While patrolling the park roads and beach areas, Ranger Malionek received a call for a water rescue. Immediately, we made our way to the scene in case the EMS and Rescue Squad needed our assistance.  Fortunately, the swimmer was quickly pulled from the water and the EMS personnel were clearing the scene as we arrived.

Following my lieu day, Ranger Krebs and I were back on patrol for the busy holiday weekend. The weekend got off to a fast start when Ranger Krebs was notified of a trash dumping site that was found near one of the park campgrounds. Ranger Krebs investigated the illegal dumping, and was able to find several items that were linked back to a specific individual. Ranger Krebs called for assistance from the County Deputies who were familiar with the individuals involved. The Deputies were able assist us in contacting the individuals, and the investigation continued. According to the individuals involved, they hired a third party to dispose of the waste that was found in the park. The individuals could not locate the hired garbageman, and therefore Ranger Krebs issued them the ticket for the illegal dumping. This incident serves as a reminder to hire trustworthy contractors and to always keep track of who is working on your behalf. In the end, you are responsible for the actions of your contractors.
5K Race: Avon Beach
The remainder of the Memorial Day weekend continued to be busy. Throughout the weekend Ranger Krebs and I patrolled the beach and park roads looking for any violations and signs of Driving Under the Influence. While on the beach, many visitors enjoy consuming alcohol. Unfortunately, they often drive afterwords and present a risk to others on the roadway. Law Enforcement Rangers are responsible for apprehending DUI drivers and deterring others from driving while intoxicated. On this holiday weekend, we did not make any arrests for DUI. Hopefully, our presence on the roads and beaches deterred individuals from engaging in this behavior and made the roads safer for everyone.

During the weekend, Ranger Krebs and I found and transported our first stray dog of the summer. While driving on the beach, we observed a Golden Retriever who was roaming the beach without a leash. Thinking that we had a dog off leash violation, we quickly stopped and tried to find the dogs owner. A few visitors were able to catch the dog shortly after we arrived, and Ranger Krebs put a leash on the dog. The dog had no collar or identification tags, so we walked the beach looking for its owners. Unable to find the dog owner, we contacted the local ASPCA office and arranged for a animal control officer to meet us. During transport to the meeting location, the dog was extremely well behaved. This certainty made the trip much smoother and we were happy to find such a well trained dog! We turned the dog over to the ASPCA officer and requested that they contact us if the dog owner is found. Two days after finding the dog, Dare County dispatchers advised us that the dog owner had called and was in the area. Ranger Krebs and I responded to the owners home to gather additional information. After talking with the owner, a citation was issued for the dog-off-leash violation, however, the dog owner was happy to know that the dog was safe.

After the busy Memorial Day weekend, the last day of our work week was spent filing reports and catching up on administrative tasks. For each case number, a written report must be typed and the proper paperwork filed. Although this is the less-exciting part of the job, it is an important part of the Criminal Justice System. Tune in next week for more stories and lessons from Cape Hatteras National Seashore!

Thank you for reading!

Jay Copper


  1. Wow Jay!
    I'm jealous you got to participate in CPR training. Those skills are very important for everyone to have. Keep up the good work.
    Daviryne Hall

  2. That dog is so sweet. Bring him back with you Jay! He can be the office dog. Samara

  3. Samara,

    Fortunately, someone claimed the dog a few days later. She was a great dog!