Thursday, July 6, 2017

Sniffing Out My True Passion

Water Monitoring Supplies
Hello Everyone! Hope you all had a great July Fourth weekend! This past holiday week and weekend did prove to be very busy. But first, let’s start at the beginning of the week! My week started out by spending a day with our Natural Resource Management Department helping interns Paul and Meg do water quality sampling. Volunteering to help and learn about this task was my choice as I took on an extra day of work to learn more about how they monitor parks biggest and founding resource. They did a great job at explaining all the tools to me, what each one measures, and what the results of each meant. We did about 10 springs throughout the day, and I got to know just how hot they get! We did one in the Sauna room in one of the functioning bathhouses, and let’s just say doing that in full uniform it got hot and sweaty very quick. By the end of the day I was starting to become an expert at the routine we were going through, and Paul and Meg were very glad I could tag along and learn not only about the monitoring but also that we all learned more about each other’s programs and backgrounds!

Lake Ouachita!
The following day was my day off, so I took advantage of the beautiful weather we had and went for a hike at Lake Ouachita State Park, which is only a 30-minute ride from Hot Springs. The park was gorgeous, as I was able to enjoy an amazing view while I ate my lunch! The hike was not easy but with all the views and the great weather, it was a great pre-workout before I headed to the gym! I will be going back to either kayak or hike again before my summer here is over. Following my day off, it was a slow day in the office for Ranger VanNest and I, as we continued to work on projects that we want to complete by the end of summer. We also were able to go out and patrol the park for a few hours, with nothing really going on, but we did take notice to the large amount of people starting to roll into town for the July 4th weekend.

DUI Checkpoint
Next up for the July 4th weekend was our DUI checkpoint. Ranger VanNest worked during the day, as all the other Rangers and I weren’t scheduled to come in till later in the day due to the time of night we would be working till. After we all came in and got some other work done, it was time for the DUI checkpoint briefing, where we discussed where it would be taking place, the exact time frame, what supplies we needed, as well as other policies and procedures on how the stop was going to run. We also went over what to do in certain situations that may arise, such as an excessive number of vehicles in secondary to conduct field sobriety tests (SFST), or if someone were to run through the checkpoint. After the briefing, we all got loaded up with our necessary supplies, then half of us went down to start to set up as the others went out to close the park before reconvening with us at the checkpoint. My job that night was to record the number of cars that came through, and the statistics as to what verbal warnings were given, citations, arrests, tows, etc. I also helped signal drivers to where the Rangers were and was allowed to check the rear of the car to see if their registration was current, if they had a license plate, and that all their lights were working. Overall after the DUI checkpoint concluded we had over 100 cars come through with many verbal’s and citations written for a various number of offenses. It was a successful night, as we kept the streets safe, and I could learn how the Rangers here conduct their DUI stops.

FBI ERT Vehicle
The following day would be a long day for all of us. As many of the Rangers were supposed to have off, a few got called in for an unfortunate event that happened which required the extra personnel. A deceased body was discovered on one of our mountains, which required us to shut the mountain down for the investigation. Since we don’t have an Investigative Service Branch Investigator (basically NPS LE Detectives) close by, we called in the FBI Evidence Response Team (ERT) and an FBI Special Agent from the Little Rock, Arkansas office. It was great to see the what the ERT team does and is responsible for while on the scene, and how well they worked with our Rangers to work the case. I was also very grateful for all the Rangers and the ERTteam for allowing me to learn and help with some of the processes they did throughout the investigation, and all the well wishes the team gave me going forward in the program, as they all thought it was a great opportunity and program, which it very well is. Once they were done processing the scene, they gathered up all their equipment and headed back to Little Rock, as it was time for us to head back to the office, enter evidence, then head home after a long day. Overall the incident from the time the first officer got there till the scene was cleared took about 8 hours, which shows you just quickly your normal day at the office can change while in this job. The following day I was tasked with downloading pictures from the incident and burning them to a CD/DVD disc for evidence and future possible use if deemed necessary. Along with that, the rest of the day consisted of office (incident paperwork) work for Ranger VanNest, and project work for myself. I also finished the two-week long evidence log project, which will continue onto the next phase later this month. To finish the day off I took my Intro to Aviation test finally and passed, obtaining my certification after a week-long online course! It was a busy and long two days, but all the knowledge and experience gained was invaluable and will be used going forward.

K9 Konyak
To finish off my week, I rode along Ranger Little and K9 Konyak, which is always a great time as I get to learn more about the K9 program. Usually while riding along with Ranger Little we get good stops which was no exception today (I may be a good/bad luck charm depending on what side of the lights your on ha-ha). During one of our first car stops, I was able to assist by watching the subjects as they were asked to exit the vehicle and stand off to the side while Ranger Little brought out K9 Konyak to do a run of the car. This was the first time seeing Konyak in action, and it even hooked me more onto becoming a future K9 Ranger, as the value of a K9 continues to show its importance at a park such as HOSP. Ranger Little wound up citing for a few offenses, and explained to me how to write certain citations for each. He also explained to me as well that if you have a suspended Drivers license (DL) it is a mandatory court appearance, as a court appearance is also mandatory if you are written a citation for drugs or paraphernalia.  On another one of our stops, I also assisted with calling in the license plate number and car description while Ranger Little was dealing with the driver (my studying and memorization of the phonetic alphabet paid off). The radio transmission went smooth as we got back the correct description of the car and that everything was valid. Ranger Little would write a citation for driving with suspended DL, then we would head back to the office to enter evidence and close out our night. When we got back I was able to play (throw his toy) with K9 Konyak to get some of his energy out (always very energetic but very loyal/attentive to Ranger Little and commands). After playing with Konyak and sending some emails, it was time for me to go home and enjoy two days off after a very long, busy, exciting week, with much learned as I discovered my true passion that I want to pursue once I become a Ranger, being a K9 handler. I hope you all are enjoying your summer and my blogs, so stay tuned for next weeks! Have a safe week and enjoy!

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