DEC Forest Rangers – Week in Review

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For release: Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Recent Statewide Ranger Actions

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) rangers respond to search and rescue incidents throughout the state. Working with other state agencies, local emergency response organizations, and volunteer search and rescue groups, Forest Rangers locate and retrieve lost, injured, or distressed people across the state of New York.

In 2021, DEC rangers conducted 426 search and rescue missions, extinguished wildfires, participated in prescribed fires that served to rejuvenate hundreds of acres of land, and worked on cases that resulted in thousands of tickets or arrests.

“Over the past decade, as well as during the COVID-19 pandemic, DEC has seen an increase in the number of people visiting state lands to experience New York City’s many outdoor recreation opportunities,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “DEC rangers continue to be on the front lines of helping visitors get out responsibly and return home safely, as well as protecting our state’s irreplaceable natural resources. first aid, land navigation and rescue skills are essential to the success of their missions, which for more than a century have taken them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountain peaks, to whitewater rivers and through our vast statewide forests.”

City of Caroga
Fulton County
Litter training on wheels:
On July 25, Ranger Lt. Kerr and Rangers Nally and Thompson conducted rolling trash training at the monthly meeting of the Caroga Lake Volunteer Fire Department. Rangers demonstrated how to wrap a patient in a litter, and with the use of Speculator’s Fire Department Litter Wheel, Rangers walked attendees through its installation, use, and rescue application. Members of the fire department practiced using the wheel on rough terrain and steep inclines while Rangers demonstrated simple litter belaying techniques. The Caroga Lake Fire Department and surrounding mutual aid services are frequently called upon to assist with wilderness search and rescue in Fulton and Hamilton counties. Ongoing training and equipment familiarization helps prepare personnel for technical wilderness rescues and maintain interagency relationships essential for backcountry emergency response.

For a video demonstration of the roller litter box by Ranger Dawson last summer, go to the DEC Facebook page (leaves the DEC website).


Litter training on wheels

Training rangers and emergency personnel with roller litter in front of the fire station
Litter training on wheels

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
At 12:58 p.m. July 25, Ray Brook Dispatch requested ranger assistance for a hiker who injured his knee while descending the Hurricane Mountain Trail with his wife and dog. Ranger Lewis reached the 53-year-old from Hamilton and gave him a knee brace, but the subject was unable to put weight on it. Ranger Lewis was joined by Rangers Balerno, Black, Burns, Curcio, Martin, Mecus and O’Connor to help with the transport. Rangers used backpack racks for the steep, rocky section of the trail before switching to wheeled litter. Rangers transported the hiker via ATV for the last mile to the trailhead. Subject attended Elizabethtown Hospital for further medical attention. Resources were cleared at 7 p.m.

Rangers using wheeled litter and backpack supports to transport a person over rough terrain
Hurricane Mountain Rescue

Rangers using a wheeled litter to transport a person over large tree roots in the woods
Hurricane Mountain Rescue


Hurricane Mountain Rescue

Tupper Lake Village
Franklin County
Homicide investigation:
At 1 p.m. July 28, Forest Rangers Lt. LaPierre, Rangers Curcio, DiCintio, and Praczkajlo, and DEC Environmental Conservation Police (ECO) officers Buffa and Favreau joined the state police. of New York (NYSP) in the search for a murder suspect after a stabbing. at Tupper Lake. At 2:30 p.m. Rangers DiCintio and Praczkajlo located the suspect, 26-year-old Alexa Gallagher, who was taken into NYSP custody. Gallagher is charged with second degree murder in the death of Melissa Guisewhite, 51, of Tupper Lake.

Ohio City
Herkimer County
Wilderness Rescue:
At 6.15pm on July 29, Forest Ranger Bills began searching for a 47-year-old man and four children, ages five, eight, nine and 12, last seen at 11.30am by relatives in North Lake . The person who reported that the group was late claimed that the man may have been intoxicated and was looking for the Ice Cave Mountain trail. The children wore shorts and t-shirts and had no food or water. At 9:30 p.m., five additional Rangers joined the search. The search area had no cell service, poor radio coverage, and presented many hazards even for experienced hikers. At 2:30 a.m., the Rangers were joined by State Police and NYSP K-9. Search teams spent the night looking at Ice Cave Mountain, Golden Stair Mountain, several logging trails, drainages and swamps with negative results. Six additional Rangers and four members of the NYSP Special Operations Rescue Team (SORT) began searching at 5:50 a.m. Ranger Evans sent two SORT members to search north of Golden Stair Mountain and at 9 h, they found the group in a drainage. The temperature had dropped to 47 degrees overnight and the children were cold and hungry. Local emergency medical services verified the group and reunited the children with parents. The man was picked up by the police for questioning.

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
At 9:25 p.m. July 29, Ray Brook Dispatch received a radio call from Johns Brook Lodge requesting assistance for a hiker who suffered a dental injury while hiking in the Johns Brook Valley. Forest Rangers Curcio and O’Connor responded. Ranger O’Connor joined the 72-year-old woman from Williamsville at 11:30 p.m. Subject had hit her face against a rock and was suffering from severe jaw swelling and damaged teeth and could not close the stuffy. Due to exhaustion, subject could not safely hold an ATV, so Rangers stayed with her at the outpost overnight. At 7:30 a.m. Rangers brought the subject back to the Garden Trailhead where she advised to go to the ER.

City of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness rescue:
At 10:10 a.m. July 31, Ray Brook Dispatch requested ranger assistance from a hiker complaining of chest pain on the Northville-Placid Trail. Rangers Curcio and DiCintio worked with NYSP Aviation on a lift operation at the lean-to near the pond. At 1 p.m., Ranger Curcio hoisted the 52-year-old from Rexford and put the hiker safely in a helicopter to take him to hospital.

City of The Hague
Warren County
Aquatic rescue:
At 12:30 p.m. July 31, Rangers Kabrehl and Perryman and Deputy Ranger Haker were on a boat patrol on Lake George and heard Warren County 911 dispatch a Lake George Park Commission officer ( LGPC) at the scene of a stranded vessel. on the rocks on Anthony’s nose. The small boat, occupied by two fishermen, had run aground due to the wake of a large cruise ship. Ranger Kabrehl climbed onto the beached boat and helped the two fishermen into the LGPC boat, which took them to the Mossy Point boat launch. The boat was removed later that evening.

Forest Ranger and others push the stranded boat back into the water
Boat stranded in Lake George

DEC continues to urge New Yorkers to practice utmost safety when building campfires this summer. Dry weather in June and July increased the risk of fires. More information on how to reduce the risk of wildfires can be found on the DEC website.

Be sure to prepare and plan well before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hike Smart NY, Adirondack Backcountry Information, and Catskill Backcountry Information webpages for more information.

If anyone needs a ranger, whether for search and rescue, reporting a wildfire, or reporting illegal activity on state lands and easements, they should call 833- NYS-RANGERS. If someone needs urgent assistance, they can call 911. To contact a ranger for information about a specific location, the DEC website has phone numbers for each ranger listed by region.

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