Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Bring on the water - OZAR week 1

I have arrived at my second internship at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, and my first week has been full of adjustment and surprise.

OZAR is a large park, and getting my bearings has been a challenge. It is of utmost importance to understand ones jurisdiction and to become familiar with the layout of ones park, beyond the areas with the highest visitation or where a Ranger works the most, as a United States Park Ranger can be dispatched to anywhere within her or his jurisdiction. Understanding the lay of the land is important to truly maintain situational awareness and prepare for future incidents.
I hope to develop my familiarity district by district in the upcoming weeks.

I spent my first few days at Headquarters, combing through the Superintendent’s Compendium, Memorandums of Understanding with the County Sheriffs’ Offices and cooperating agencies, Fatality reports from past years, and some recent Incident Reports. These documents are important for me to review in my internship, because they allow me to understand the ins-and-outs of park rules, how the park cooperates with partners, and the importance of good report writing. Chief Ranger Dennis Weiland helped me to understand what goes into a good report, because no matter what kind of incident, a case is only as good as its documentation. I had the pleasure of shadowing Law Enforcement Specialist Jodi Towery, who introduced me to the new protocol in documenting evidence, showing me how evidence is moved from the field into storage.
I also had the opportunity to sit in on the monthly safety meeting. Accident and disease prevention starts with NPS employees, for no public servant can be of any assistance to visitors if she or he does not uphold their own health and safety as priority.

By the weekend, I was very excited to begin working in the field. I had the opportunity to shadow Supervisory Ranger Chris Figge at the Alley Spring Ranger Station in the Jacks Fork district. These first few days reminded me of how important it is to be prepared for anything. On Saturday, the rain was pouring, and I accompanied Ranger Figge on boat patrol to pull the remaining floaters off the water as the Jacks Fork River reached flash flood levels. Just the next day, Ranger Figge and I again set out on boat patrol, but this time it was a sunny hot day. We surveyed the river for debris that would need to be removed from the river to ensure floater safety. Ranger Figge even gave me my first introduction to operating a motorized boat. Needless to say, both my rain jacket and a bottle of sunscreen will remain in my backpack for the rest of the summer.

Until next week!

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