Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Recent DEC Forest Ranger Search and Rescue Operations

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents in the Adirondacks. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and extract lost, injured or distressed people from the Adirondack backcountry.

What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers in the Adirondacks.

Essex County

Town of North Elba
High Peaks Wilderness
Distressed hiker: On August 10, 2016 at 6:55 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 58-year-old man from Tampa, FL in medical distress on Algonquin. DEC Forest Rangers responded and assisted the man down the trail. However, due to exhaustion, he could not continue just below McIntyre Falls. As the man rested and continued being hydrated, a carry out team made their way in. They packaged and carried him to McIntyre Brook to a waiting Utility Terrain Vehicle. The UTV then transported him to the trailhead where his hiking party waited. He said he would seek medical attention with the assistance of his companions. The incident concluded on August 11 at 2:30 am.

Town of Keene
Dix Mountain Wilderness
Distressed hikers: On August 11, 2016 at 4:37 pm, Essex County 911 contacted DEC Ray Brook Dispatch requesting assistance for a 24-year-old man from Albany, NY and a 24-year-old man from Brooklyn, NY in medical distress on Dial Mountain. A DEC Forest Ranger responded, stabilized the hikers and escorted them out to the trail head. The incident concluded at 8:45 pm.

Town of Keene
Adirondack Mountain Reserve
Injured hiker: On August 16, 2016 at 1:09 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR) for a 66-year-old man from Valley Field, QC, CA with a lower-leg injury at Beaver Meadow Falls. One DEC Forest Ranger responded, stabilized the injury and assisted the man out to his vehicle. He said he would seek medical attention on his own. The incident concluded at 3:53 p.m.

Town of Keene
High Peaks Wilderness
Injured hiker: On August 20, 2016 at 4:00 a.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a request for assistance from a fellow hiker for a 37-year-old man from Brooklyn, NY with a leg injury on the Ore Bed Trail in John’s Brook Valley. The injury occurred the previous evening at around 8:00 p.m. and the man needed assistance. A team of DEC Forest Rangers, Assistant Forest Rangers, and a Summit Steward responded and hiked up the trail. A second team of Forest Rangers organized a helicopter evacuation with New York State Police Aviation. Upon locating the injured man from the air, a Forest Ranger was inserted to prepare the man for evacuation. They flew him to Marcy Field to be transferred to a waiting Keene Valley Ambulance. The ambulance transported him to an area hospital for additional medical treatment. The incident concluded at 11:30 a.m. A DEC Environmental Conservation Officer assisted in the rescue.

Town of North Elba
High Peaks Wilderness
Distressed hiker: On August 20, 2016 at 1:18 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from the hiking companion of a 67-year-old man from Bennington, VT in medical distress. The man was at Indian Falls heading toward the summit of Mount Marcy. The Marcy Dam caretaker and the Mount Marcy summit steward assisted the man to Marcy Dam where he was met by DEC Forest Rangers and taken by Utility Terrain Vehicle to Adirondak Loj. He said he would seek medical care on his own.

Town of North Elba
High Peaks Wilderness
Distressed hiker: On August 20, 2016 at 2:25 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from an Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) via radio transmission for a 50-year-old woman in medical distress near Marcy Dam. The AFR stabilized the woman and assisted her to Marcy Dam where she was met by DEC Forest Rangers and taken by Utility Terrain Vehicle to Adirondak Loj.

Town of Keene
High Peaks Wilderness
Injured hiker: On August 20, 2016 at 2:38 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from Essex county 911 for a 29-year-old man from Plattsburgh, NY with a lower-leg injury on Cascade Mountain. A DEC Forest Ranger and an Assistant Forest Ranger responded, stabilized the injury and assisted him down the trail to the trailhead. He said he would seek medical attention on his own.

Town of North Elba
High Peaks Wilderness
Injured hiker: On August 20, 2016 at 5:50 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from an Assistant Forest Ranger (AFR) stating she was on her way to assist a 52-year-old woman from Buffalo, NY with a lower-leg injury approximately 1/2 mile from Marcy Dam. The AFR assisted the woman to Marcy Dam where she was met by a Forest Ranger and taken by Utility Terrain Vehicle to Adirondak Loj. The incident concluded at 7:16 p.m.

Town of Keene
Adirondack Mountain Reserve
Overdue hikers: On August 20, 2016 at 11:56 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from a friend of a missing hiking party. The party; a 71-year-old man and a 71-year-old woman, both from Camillus, NY, a 72-year-old man, 73-year-old man, and a 53-year-old woman, all from Syracuse, NY were overdue from hiking the West River trail. DEC Forest Rangers responded to the Adirondack Mountain Reserve (AMR), located the group and assisted them to the trailhead. Forest Rangers provided a courtesy ride via Ranger truck to AMR. The incident concluded on August 21 at 4:47 a.m.

Hamilton County

Town of Benson
Silver Lake Wilderness
Distressed hiker: On August 8, 2016 at 5:37 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 56-year-old woman from Endicott, NY in medical distress on the Northville-Placid trail. DEC Forest Rangers responded and picked up the woman by Ranger Patrol vehicle for transport back to the trailhead. She refused additional medical treatment. The incident concluded at 9:30 pm.

Town of Indian Lake
Hudson Gorge Wilderness
Injured hiker: On August 20, 2016 at 11:26 a.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance for a 58-year-old woman from Ballston Lake, NY with a non-weight bearing lower-leg injury two miles in on the OK Slip Falls trail. DEC Forest Rangers responded, stabilized the injury and assisted the woman to the trailhead. She said she would seek medical attention on her own. The incident concluded at 3:26 p.m.

Herkimer County

Town of Salisbury
Private Land
Lost hiker: On August 10, 2016 at 6:33 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance from Herkimer County 911 for a 58-year-old man from Salisbury, NY lost in the Christian Lake area. He had not been seen for over four hours. DEC Forest Rangers, along with New York State Police and the State Police K-9 unit responded. By 3 am the man still had not been located and Rangers requested additional resources. New York State Police Aviation searched by air. Forest Rangers performing a Type 1 search located the man at 2:42 pm on August 11. He was weak but uninjured. They escorted him out to a waiting Stratford-Salisbury rescue squad ambulance which transported him to a local area hospital. The Herkimer County Sheriff’s Office and family members assisted in the search.

Town of Ohio
Black River Wild Forest
Injured camper: On August 20, 2016 at 8:54 p.m., DEC Central Dispatch received a request for assistance from Herkimer County 911 for a 25-year-old man from Rome, NY with a leg injury at Chub Pond. DEC Forest Rangers responded with assistance from the Woodgate and Otter Lake Fire Departments, New York State Police, and the Trackside Blazer Snowmobile Club. NYSP located the man and transported him via All-Terrain-Vehicle to a waiting Prospect ambulance. He was taken to an area hospital for additional medical treatment. The incident concluded on August 21 at 1:48 a.m.

Lawrence County

Town of Clifton
Cranberry Lake Wild Forest
Distressed hikers: On August 13, 2016 at 11:45 am, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio transmission from an Assistant Forest Ranger requesting assistance for a 56-year-old man from Hastings, NY in medical distress on Bear Mountain in the Cranberry Lake campground. The Cranberry Lake fire department and EMS responded to the area. DEC Forest Rangers arrived on scene to find EMS already assisting the man. Fire department personnel and DEC Forest Rangers packaged and carried him out to an ambulance at the trailhead. The ambulance transported him to an area hospital for medical treatment. The incident concluded at 1:15 pm.

Warren County

Town of Lake George
Lake George Wild Forest
Lost hikers: On August 20, 2016 at 4:41 p.m., DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for assistance call from DEC Lake George (Million Dollar) Beach employees for a 56-year-old man, an 18-year-old male, and a 13-year-old boy, all from Douglaston, NY lost on Prospect Mountain. A DEC Forest Ranger responded and located the family. The Forest Ranger assisted the family down to a trailhead and provided a courtesy ride via Ranger truck to their vehicle located on Smith Road.

Washington County

Town of Fort Ann
Lake George Wild Forest
Lost hikers: On August 11, 2016 at 2:39 pm, DEC Ray Brook Dispatch received a call requesting assistance from Washington County 911 for a 47-year-old man and 15-year-old girl, both from Bay Shore, NY lost on Buck Mountain. Based on their descriptions of their surroundings a DEC Forest Ranger hiked in to their location and assisted them down the trail to Lake George. Another Forest Ranger picked up the pair via boat and brought them to shore where they were then escorted by Ranger Patrol vehicle back to the trailhead. The incident concluded at 5:28 pm.

Be Prepared: Properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety webpage and Adirondack Trail Information webpage for more information about where you intend to travel. The Adirondack Almanack reports weekly Outdoor Conditions each Thursday afternoon.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at editor@adirondackalmanack.com.




9 Responses

  1. scottvanlaer says:

    Look at how many incidents occurred in the High Peaks on August 20th. Forest Rangers are also tasked with the stewardship of state land. How much of that is occurring when they must respond to so many S@R incidents? Are staffing levels appropriate when they have not change since the 1970’s while the amount of state land has increased by 1 million acres and S@R incidents have sky rocketed?

    • John Warren says:

      I think it would be helpful if DEC did some work to inform people about how many people are now visiting. I understand that there has been a noticeably large increase in the High Peaks visitors. The 46ers are now going to an online system and I expect the numbers are only at the beginning of a major increase.

    • Bill Ingersoll says:

      My understanding is that trailhead register data has not been tabulated for many years, so DEC cannot even say how many people visit the High Peaks each year. The last figure that I recall was 144,000 people per year in 1998. I have no doubt that the number is much higher now, with a significant spike in winter usage in the last 18 years.

      • Dan says:

        A few of us made a nice loop through some of the Ausable property this past Sat., arriving (late) at the trailhead at 11 AM. The gatekeeper said to us that there had already been 325 people in that AM….

    • Boreas says:

      Staffing levels are simply not appropriate for the amount of territory to be covered and and protected. Shame on US for allowing state budgets to pass without proper funding for more DEC feet on the ground. Politically it is easier to buy a $10M parcel that to hire one ranger to patrol it.

    • pjjmunn@gmail.com says:

      NYS taxes are already too high… Maybe an insurance/user fee at the trail head could mitigate the cost of hiring more help….

  2. Boreas says:

    Some meandering thoughts:

    In some of the incidents it is unclear how many individuals are in the hiking party. Whenever possible, it would be interesting to note which cases are solo hikers and the total party sizes of others. It could be used to illustrate the relative risks of solo hiking. Just a thought.

    I was always a slow hiker, so developed a preference over time of solo hiking & skiing. Back before cell phones, being solo could add an element of lethality to mistakes and injuries. Just the addition of cell phones to the backcountry has increased the number of S & R missions. But no increase in ranger funding to account for these calls has been forthcoming.

    Despite the obvious logistical issues, ideally I feel out-of-state users of the park should contribute to both maintenance of the park and the ranger system. Perhaps initially some sort of VOLUNTARY HPW annual Ranger pass available on-line for ALL HPW users – free for NYS residents, nominal fee for OOS residents. It wouldn’t necessarily have to be enforced, but It could possibly get you free shuttle parking or area discounts, but more importantly, it would be used to defray nominal S&R fees that could be charged on a per-incident basis for people requesting assistance in the HPW. Possible fees could be $50 for DEC cell phone location assistance, $200 for a S&R call, $500 extraction, etc.. People with a pass would not be charged, but without a pass they would be charged. These fees would go directly to an HPW Ranger Fund. Just thinking out-loud…

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