ALBANY, NY — New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents statewide. 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 backcountry.
In 2017, DEC Forest Rangers conducted 346 search and rescue missions, extinguished 55 wildfires that burned a total of 191 acres, participated in 29 prescribed fires that burned and rejuvenated 564 acres, and worked on cases that resulted in nearly 3,000 tickets or arrests.
“Across New York, DEC Forest Rangers are on the front lines helping people safely enjoy the great outdoors,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “Their knowledge of first aid, land navigation, and technical rescue techniques are critical to the success of their missions, which take them from remote wilderness areas with rugged mountainous peaks, to white-water rivers, and throughout our vast forested areas statewide.”
Recent missions carried out by DEC Forest Rangers include:
Town of Norfolk
St. Lawrence County
Wildland Search: On Sept. 23 at 4:28 p.m., Forest Rangers were requested by St. Lawrence County 911 to assist Sheriffs in locating a missing, non-verbal 12-year-old boy with special needs. The boy had left a residence through a window during the afternoon unbeknownst to his caretakers. Eight Forest Rangers responded to organize and lead personnel to search the wooded areas around the residence. Members from the St. Lawrence County Sheriff’s Department, DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officers (ECOs), State Police, NYS Search and Rescue Federation, along with volunteers from the community, participated in the search effort. At 3:56 a.m. on Sept. 24, the boy was located by search crews approximately one-half mile behind the home in a wetland. He was brought out of the woods by ATV, warmed, and transported to the Canton-Potsdam Hospital for a follow-up evaluation.
Town of Palenville
Wildland Search: On Sept. 13 and 14, DEC Forest Rangers attended a technical rope rescue training at North/South Lake Campground at the Catskill Mountain House site. Forest Rangers attend a mandatory training once a year. Over the course of two days, Rangers trained on packaging a patient in a litter, creating anchors, using repelling techniques, and hauling a patient in steep angle environments.
Town of Newcomb
Wildland Search: At 5:03 a.m. on Sept. 17, DEC’s Central Dispatch received a call for Forest Ranger assistance from Essex County 911 for two hikers lost on Allen Mountain. The group of three from Rochester had planned to hike Marshall and Allen mountains, but one of the hikers suffered a minor knee injury while climbing Marshall. The subject stayed at the Calamity lean-to with his camping gear while the other two subjects decided to hike Allen Mountain. On the trail, the pair became lost and spent the night in the wilderness. The next morning, they hiked up Skylight Brook to try to obtain cell coverage and called 911 for help. Based on the coordinates provided, Rangers located the two hikers, who were cold but in good condition. They were escorted back to the Calamity Brook lean-to where they were reunited with their companion and hiked out. The incident concluded at 2:30 p.m.
Town of Keene
Wildland Rescue: On Sept. 17 at 1:50 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a hiker advising that her husband, a 68-year-old male from Hinesburg, Vt., had suffered a possible fracture to his femur while hiking between Armstrong and Gothics mountains. The male hiker’s injury was non-ambulatory. Phone coordinates obtained by Essex County 911 placed the pair near the summit of Armstrong Mountain. Forest Rangers were dispatched to coordinate the rescue effort. Three Rangers were picked up by a New York State Police Aviation helicopter and two Rangers were inserted on the summit of Armstrong Mountain. The Keene Valley Rescue Ambulance staged at Marcy Field with an Advanced Life Support crew. One Ranger was staged at Keene Valley Fire Department with a ATV in the event a hoist extraction could not be performed. The Rangers inserted on Armstrong Mountain hiked down to the injured hiker, stabilized his injury, and outfitted him with a rescue harness. He was then hoisted out by the helicopter and airlifted to Marcy Field, where he was turned over to Keene Valley Rescue for transport to Elizabethtown Community Hospital. The Rangers that were inserted assisted the remainder of the hiking group out of the woods six miles with their gear, and the incident concluded at 4:30 p.m.
Town of Indian Lake
Wildland Rescue: At 12:58 p.m. on Sept. 18, DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch was notified by Hamilton County Sheriffs of a 70-year-old male from Columbus, Ohio, with a leg injury on Blue Mountain, approximately a half-mile from the summit. The hiker, his wife, and two sons were descending Blue Mountain when the subject fell on a rock and heard a popping sound in his knee. Two passing hikers, one of whom was an EMT, stopped to assist. A Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy was the first to reach the injured hiker. Three Forest Rangers responded, relaying fire department personnel and equipment to the summit via the access road to the communications towers. The hiker was packaged into a litter, and Forest Rangers, volunteers, and family members carried the injured hiker .4 miles up the steep incline to the summit using a combination of steep angle rope techniques and backpack carriers. The injured hiker was loaded into a Hamilton County Sheriffs vehicle at 4:45 p.m., and transported down the mountain road to a waiting ambulance, which brought him to Glens Falls Hospital for further care.
Town of Fort Ann
Wildland Rescue: On Sept. 19 at 6:40 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from Warren County 911 requesting assistance near Shelving Rock Trail on Lake George for an injured fisherman, a 53-year-old male. The fisherman had fallen, hit his head, and sustained a head laceration. The fisherman was conscious but could not walk out due to the injuries. Fort Ann Rescue personnel were dispatched, as well. Ranger Evan Donegan arrived on scene by 7:15 p.m., and proceeded into the woods. Fort Ann Fire and Washington County Sheriffs arrived and headed in, locating the subject near the Knapp Estate. The group met up with Ranger Donegan on the trail near Log Bay. The Ranger escorted the group to the trailhead, where a waiting ambulance took the subject to Glens Falls Hospital for treatment. The incident concluded at 9:15 p.m.
Town of Almond
Wildland Search: On Sept. 20 at 6:28 p.m., Alleghany County 911 contacted Ranger Justin Thaine to assist State Police in a search for a missing 48-year-old female in the town of West Almond. The woman was visiting her camp property when her dog ran off. While attempting to locate the dog in the woods, she became lost and called 911. The wooded area was adjacent to the Phillip’s Creek State Forest. Forest Ranger Justin Thaine and two Troopers responded. The dispatcher relayed the lost female’s cell phone coordinates to Ranger Thaine, who requested she stay put. The group located the lost female at 7:28 p.m., about a half mile north of Lockwood Road. The dog was located, too, and the two were led back to the camp by 7:50 p.m.
Town of Newcomb
Wildland Rescue: On Sept. 22 at 10:54 a.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a request for Forest Ranger assistance for a 37-year-old male from Albany who suffered a lower leg injury at 2nd Pond off Gulf Brook Road in the Boreas Tract. The hiker was non-ambulatory and requested assistance. The caller hiked out five miles to obtain assistance at Gulf Brook Road, which is closed to public vehicles. Forest Ranger Jamison Martin responded, was on scene by 11:21 a.m., and met the reporting party. He located the subject by 12:03 p.m., and provided a courtesy transport for the injured hiker and friend back to their vehicle. The injured hiker advised he would seek medical attention on his own and the incident concluded at 1:15 p.m.
Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hiking Safety (http://www.dec.ny.gov/