Thursday, June 6, 2013

Antietam National Battlefield Week 2

Hey everyone, Jess here again giving you all the lowdown on what's going on at Antietam National Battlefield.

My work week started Tuesday May 28th at 8:30 with my supervisor Tom Jones picking me up from my seasonal quarters. Once we got together we began driving around the park doing a regular morning patrol. The previous week, Tom would tell me where we were and how to get to places. Since I've now got a full week under my belt, Tom began asking me questions as to get me thinking about where we’re driving and how to get to the Burnside Bridge. In addition to getting more oriented with the layout of the park, I also began to get a better understanding of the Battle of Antietam. When you visit this summer, come find me; I can tell you the three phases of the battle and give you each location. I'm really psyched about this information and I can't keep it to myself.

Other than routine patrolling, Tom and I had the task of cleaning his firearms after having summer quals the previous week. During the cleaning, Tom made sure each of his weapons was safe by removing magazines and the duty bullet that was in the barrel. He showed me all the proper techniques of cleaning, disassembling and assembling his pistol, shotgun and rifle. While we were dealing with firearms, Tom also made sure to inform me on the importance of keeping firearms safe at all times, including times when a ranger is off duty.

Wednesday, Tom and I spent most of the day at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park where Ranger Mark Howard prepared a presentation and taught a course on Non-Emergency Vehicle Operation. Ranger Howard showed us Prorangers in the National Capital Region how to be safe while on duty and why it is important to keep ourselves safe while operating a vehicle. Afterwards we all took to the parking lot and tried out the skills that we learned during the presentation. We had the task of driving around the parking lot and doing a 3-point turn, parallel parking, "J" turn and backing into a space. As someone who is from the city, I don't need to drive often so going to this driving training at HAFE gave me an opportunity to practice. Thanks to everyone who helped me that day and thanks to our supervisors for letting us use your patrol vehicles. Much appreciated.

Thursday afternoon, I spent time with another ranger as we visited buildings and farm houses around the park to do fire extinguisher inspections. Every month, the fire extinguishers around the park have to be inspected to be sure they can be used in the case of a fire emergency. During this time, I learned how important and simple it is to do these inspections. The next day, Friday, were more inspections in several barns in addition to a foot patrol. During the morning when it was cool, a ranger and I walked a trail that was about three miles long just to break out the norm of patrolling in a vehicle. Also, doing foot patrols are very important here because trails see a high traffic of visitors. It is good for the public to know rangers are everywhere and are ready to help.

Later that day, Tom took me to nearby town of Hagerstown to meet the operators of NCR dispatch. While there, I had the opportunity to learn about how dispatch operates and the parks they serve. It was also pretty cool to finally put some faces to the voices that I hear over the radio all the time. Meeting the operators of NCR dispatch made me feel comfortable talking over the radio (see next week) and now I have a better understanding of NCR dispatch and the role they serve in the National Park Service.

It was another great week of learning and doing.

Till next time!
-Jess Cooper

Antietam Creek

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