Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Anyone Need a Drink? Water or Pepsi?

Time is flying by here at Hot Springs National Park, as my third week here has come to an end. Let me tell you it was a busy week! I started out my work week by attending two different orientation sessions. The sessions were being put on for the teenagers participating in the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) at the park this summer. The first session was a History talk with the Parks Curator Tom Hill. During this session, I gained a great amount of knowledge on the history of the park that I never read about. The knowledge gained from Tom is knowledge you will not get by reading any old history book about Hot Springs National Park, and am glad I choose to partake in the session. After the presentation was done, we were lucky enough to get a tour through the rooms where all of the artifacts are stored for the park. Some of these artifacts the public will never get to see, but we were getting the special privilege of looking at them, and the artifacts did not disappoint.  Other artifacts in the collection will occasionally go out on display throughout the year depending on what special events or collections are going on at various times. After the tour was over, I made my way back to the Ranger office to have a quick lunch before venturing back down for the second session of the day.

Water Flow Chart for HOSP
How does the water that comes out of the ground at Hot Springs National Park get hot you ask? Well, we learned a great deal about how this process occurs during our second session about all of the resources of the park. Chief of Resource Management Shelley Todd gave us a great program on everything from how the water gets hot, to the uniqueness of the mountains in the park, to all of the different kinds of plants and animals that you can find in the park. So in order to not bore anyone with details, I will present the three fun facts I found most interesting during the session! Fun fact about the water at HOSP? It takes 4400 years for the entire process to take place, from the rainfall, it gets heated, then pushed up out of the ground; Awesome right! Fun fact about our mountains! They run East to West, unlike typical mountain ranges that run North to South in other parts of the country, which gives our mountains their unique qualities and size. Can you see all of the Hot Springs on the mountain? No, as I found out all but one of the springs are capped. They are capped to ensure the water quality remains good enough for the consumption of the public. Hot Springs National Park is unique because it’s the only park that’s enabling legislation instructs it to give away its primary resource, which is our water. Understanding the park's enabling legislation helps visitors and new park employees such as myself to better understand why the springs are capped!

All Clean!
The next day started out in the office getting some office work done. After doing my paperwork, I headed over to the maintenance yard to check the wildland engine to make sure everything was running smoothly. After the checks were completed, I decided to wash the truck and give it some TLC. After I got done washing it, I parked it in the garage and headed back to the office to get ready for the ride along later that day. Activity started to pick up later that day as I and Ranger Zach Summerlin were getting ready to go out on patrol, as this was my first time riding with Ranger Summerlin. Ranger Summerlin other than being a normal park ranger is also the parks drug recognition expert. We started out the night by going to get fuel for the patrol car and making sure we had everything ready for the night. We later made our way to West Mountain to patrol and wound up running radar for a while. It was slow for a while and as we were about to leave was when we got a car speeding. We had to turn around and go after them, which is where I observed tactical driving skills on how to complete a sharp turn in a small area in an efficient manner. Ranger Summerlin and I would catch up to them at the bottom of West Mountain, which is where we conducted the stop. The car was occupied by three persons or as we say x3. This was a great learning experience for me as to see the process beginning with a car stop all the way through to the booking of a subject that had a warrant and had to be taken/processed through the jail.
lead to an arrest for a young adult that had a local warrant out for failure to appear. We then transported him to the local counties jail facility. This is where I got to learn the booking process of bringing someone in, and all of the paperwork that needs to be filled out (ticket, ADR, warrant sheet) while the person is processed.

Little friend I saw walking to my car!
The next day was an all-day affair at the office. My sole job on that day was to comb through footage that we got from the mountain tower on the day of the bomb scare. I was to look through all of the footage and try to locate the subject(s) that may have placed it there. The subject may have carried it, hid it in a backpack, in short pockets, or a variety of different ways. Needless to say after combing through footage for the day, I was unable to come up with anything conclusive as to who may have left the suspicious looking device at the top of our mountain tower lookout.

Jack-Knifed Tractor Trailer
The final day of my work week was the busiest, and therefore the longest. Working a total of 13 hours my last day of the week was well worth all of the experiences I had. In the morning I rode with Ranger Flint Stock, making two car stops during that time as well as helping visitors that were lost. Around the evening time, I rode along with Ranger VanNest and patrolled the park until it was about time for him to go off duty and have me switch into another patrol car with Ranger Ballard. Right before this happened though we got a call for a jack-knifed tractor trailer on Blacksnake Road, in which tractor trailers aren’t allowed on because of the steep grades and events like this occurring.  We got to the scene where Ranger Ballard and Jeff were already on scene. Ranger VanNest left me with them as he was off duty now and headed home. Ranger Ballard and I had the responsibility to stop traffic at the end of the road as the tow truck company pulled the truck out and the driver back the rig down the road. Once the driver was off park property, we all cleared the scene and went out to patrol the park.

To close off the night Ranger Ballard and I had the duty to close both West Mountain and Hot Spring Mountain, as both roadways looking to the parks few overlooks closes at 2200 hours (10 p.m). Our first stop was West Mountain, where we encountered a total of three cars and occupants still at the overlooks. We ran their names and vehicles through our dispatch (EMROCC), as they all came back clear. With them all coming back clear we issued them all a verbal warning for violating park hours and sent them on their way down the mountain and out of the park for the night. Up next was Hot Springs Mountain. When we approached the first overlook on the mountain, we encountered 3 cars and 2 motorcycles, with approximately 15 people hanging out looking at the view of the city.  Again, we got all of their IDs and license plate numbers and ran them all through our dispatch at EMROCC. Everyone came back clear, but we still had a problem on our hands that both I and Ranger Ballard recognized from the beginning. As we approached the large group, we could smell the stench of marijuana coming from a group of 4 young adults. So as I said we had taken the names and license plates and ran them through EMROCC and came back clear, so we sent everyone away beside the 4 individuals. At this time Ranger Ballard and Ranger Summerlin who responded as backup questioned the young adults as to whose was high, is there any weed or stuff we need to know about in the car, etc. During questioning one of the young adults complied with us and said that he had the marijuana in his backpack along with a handgun that he had. After the questioning was done, I got to watch both rangers perform a car search, as the search did indeed come up with the marijuana and handgun, that came back to be clear after we ran the serial number. Once the search was completed, we confiscated the drugs, and issued him a citation, then sent the group on their way. Ranger Ballard and I then proceeded to close the mountain then go back to the office, where I then learned how to enter the drugs into IMARS and conceal it and put it in our evidence storage at our ranger station. (Sorry no pictures of this incident...phone died)

This week I have learned and experienced a great deal of new contacts and calls throughout the park and learned many different techniques on how to get it all done. I am looking forward to the weeks to come, as the July 4th weekend is fast approaching! Hope everyone is having a great summer, and as always stay tuned!

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