Sunday, July 3, 2016

Central District

        It has been a busy year so far for Shenandoah National Park. I hear the fall season in October can be really stressful, but these past months since spring time has arrived and now summer, people are rolling into the park by the dozens. Whether it is a family packed in the mini-van for a weekend camping trip, the motorcyclists’ looking for a beautiful ride on Skyline Drive, or the bicyclists looking for an uphill challenge, along with the foot traffic of the Appalachian Trail hikers that come through the park you have to be aware when out on the drive.
View from Old Rag
 Organizing the SAR vehicle for the holiday weekend.
Practicing bear hazing techniques with slingshots.
I have been stationed in the Central District for the past week working with both the Law Enforcement Rangers and the Preventative Search and Rescue team. I spent my first day there hiking one of the more popular hikes in the park called Old Rag. A law enforcement ranger and myself made our way up the mountain stopping and talking with the visitors making sure they had enough water, food, and that they knew where they were going. It is a great way to help prevent those search and rescue calls that are received in the park. With its popularity comes a frequent amount of rescues off the mountain. Just a couple weeks ago when I was on White Oak Canyon running a SAR call, another call broke out on Old Rag for a hiker with a head injury who had to be flown out of the park. Needless to say, it is all hands on deck when it comes to a SAR call in the park. The radio traffic is kept to a minimum so the Incident Commander can coordinate his or her resources to get the call moving smoothly. Later on that week, I attended a Basic Search and Rescue class to help run more calls in the park and work efficiently with the SAR teams. 

Over this holiday weekend, the traffic was pretty heavy. Today, a ranger and I ran radar and conducted several stops out on the drive. I was in charge of communications over the radio during the traffic stops. I worked with dispatch to run license plates and driver’s licenses getting more and more comfortable speaking over the radio. The stops we conducted played an important role in the visitors eyes. It showed our presence but it also reminds people that the drive can be dangerous and busy. With overflow of parked cars at trailheads and bear jams, there is no reason to speed, pass on a double yellow, or roll through stop signs. We give the visitors a reminder that just today a bear was struck by a vehicle, and that wasn't the first time this summer. The bears are part of the reason visitors come here, so let’s keep ‘em safe too!

Keep 'em wild!

No comments:

Post a Comment