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DCNR Rangers Help Keep Visitors Safe

July 31, 2023 12:00 AM

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​For World Ranger Day today, we salute DCNR staff who give so much to the Commonwealth and visitors to state parks and forests!

The department has around 275 people who serve as ranger trainees, rangers, and supervisors.

They provide contact with visitors, help ensure their safety and the protection of the natural resources, and enforce park and forest rules and regulations.

DCNR rangers wear uniforms, and can be a great source of information.

Rangers also can be faced with difficult and dangerous tasks. They take charge of situations in emergencies and help with search and rescues.

A number of rangers were acknowledged recently during DCNR’s Employee Recognition program for acting quickly in difficult situations and saving lives.

Amy Sterner – Loyalsock State Forest, Bradford, Lycoming and Sullivan Counties

Ranger Amy Sterner stands in between DCNR Deputy Secretary John Norbeck and Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn holding wooden award.
Left to right: Deputy Secretary John Norbeck, Amy Sterner, Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn

Ranger Amy Sterner was on routine patrol in March 2022 when she was contacted about a trail rescue in Worlds End State Park for five female trail runners stuck on ice.

The rescue involved more than 50 personnel from 10 volunteer fire companies and three state agencies.

Responder safety was paramount and Ranger Sterner identified the safest and most practical access route to avoid sliding.

A rope system had to be set up to get first responders down the mountain using more than 600 feet of rope to reach all of the stranded runners, one who was severely injured.

Ranger Sterner’s knowledge of the area and leadership strengths proved invaluable during the incident and were key for the safe extraction of the runners.

Ralph Barb -- Raccoon Creek State Park, Beaver County

Ranger Ralph Barb stands in between Deputy Secretary John Norbeck and Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn holding wooden award.
Left to right: Deputy Secretary John Norbeck, Ralph Barb, Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn

While on routine patrol in the evening in December 2022, DCNR Ranger Ralph Barb noticed what appeared to be an abandoned vehicle parked in an equestrian lot within Raccoon Creek State Park.

While inspecting the vehicle he heard what he thought was a faint cry coming from within the woods.

After quickly radioing for assistance, Ranger Barb began a hasty search of the area eventually discovering a 70-year-old woman on the ground with what appeared to be head injury.

The victim was life-flighted to the nearest medical facility and treated for a self-inflicted wound.

Ranger Barb secured the scene, retrieved a firearm, and coordinated an investigation with the state police.

The ranger continued contact with the family to learn of the woman’s continued recovery. Ultimately, Ranger Ralph Barb’s intervention saved her life.

Rescue Team -- Gifford Pinchot State Park, York County

Gifford Pinchot State Park rangers pose in group photo holding wooden awards with DCNR staff
Front row left to right: Rachel Oplinger, Steven Anderson, Kelly Sheaffer
Back row left to right: Deputy Secretary John Norbeck, Alexander Dale, Jennifer Park, Secretary Cindy Dunn

In April 2022, a search for a 92-year-old man was conducted after he did not return to his parked car after dark at Gifford Pinchot State Park.

The park manager, along with DCNR Ranger Supervisor Steve Anderson and DCNR Ranger Alex Dale, took action to initiate a hasty search along the trail systems in the day use area with no success.

Local search teams were called to assist, and a dog team was used to aid in the search.

Wet conditions and rocky terrain made the search difficult. The man was eventually found, suffering from hypothermia.

The victim was transported to the hospital and spent several days in intensive care. The actions of the staff at Gifford Pinchot truly provided life-saving service.

Search and Rescue Team – Tiadaghton State Forest, Pennsylvania Wilds

During February of last year, a hiker took his dogs for what he thought would be a quick 10-minute walk.

His dogs started barking at something, and he lost his footing in slippery conditions and slid several hundred feet down a mountain side.

The forest district manager heard his cries for help and called upon his staff to assist, including, Chief Ranger Stacy Duffield, Ranger Joshua Engle, and Ranger Craig Fishel.

The team made their way up the slope to the man while making divots in the ice for rescue personnel to walk in.

The man was extracted in the early morning hours and was flown to the hospital where he received surgery for his injuries. The team also rescued the stranded dogs.

Ranger Troy Baney -- Bald Eagle State Park, Centre County

Ranger Troy Baney stands in between Deputy Secretary John Norbeck and Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn holding wooden award
Left to right: DCNR Deputy Secretary John Norbeck, Troy Baney, Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn

DCNR Ranger Troy Baney exemplified outstanding public service days after becoming a sworn officer.

During the summer, Ranger Trainee Baney was patrolling the rustic campground at Bald Eagle State Park when he was approached by a guest that overheard someone in distress.

Baney found the subject in the lake 20-25 yards at a water level to his head.

After attempts to call the man back in failed, Baney entered the lake for a potential water rescue.

The subject started swimming toward him and once on shore, was confrontational.

The ranger was able to get the situation under control and escort the man to a nearby hospital for a medical evaluation.

Park Resource Ranger Jennifer Skalka -- Keystone State Park, Westmoreland County

While in the performance of her routine duties at Keystone State Park, Park Resource Ranger Jennifer Skalka encountered an 81-year-old male who had just sustained a fall from his bicycle.

Skalka immediately called for the assistance of DCNR Ranger Gerlach and began rendering aid.

At first, the park visitor appeared to only have minor injuries and insisted that he was going to drive home.

Upon escorting him back to his vehicle, Ranger Skalka noticed the visitor was having difficulty locating and then grasping his car keys.

She recognized the immediate need for further medical attention and requested EMS assistance.

The visitor was transported to the nearby hospital where it was later discovered he had suffered from an aneurism.

Ranger Skalka’s immediate response, quick action, and detailed observations led to the visitor’s lifesaving medical treatment.

Rangers Martin and Quinn -- Frances Slocum State Park, Luzerne County

Rangers Aidan Quinn and Timothy Martin stand in between Deputy Secretary John Norbeck and Secretary Cindy Dunn holding awards
Left to right: Deputy Secretary John Norbeck, Aidan Quinn, Timothy Martin, Secretary Cindy Dunn

On a busy Saturday in July 2022, Rangers Timothy Martin and Aidan Quinn were dispatched to a campsite for a 58-year-old male who was believed to be in cardiac arrest.

When they arrived, the unresponsive camper was not breathing, appeared without a pulse and had turned blue.

CPR was immediately started, and a defibrillator was administered by the two rangers. By the time an ambulance arrived, the patient was breathing on his own.

A few weeks later, the camper came back to the park office to express his gratitude for the ranger’s quick actions in saving his life and vowed to return to enjoy an uninterrupted camping trip.

The calm and swift reaction of Rangers Quinn and Martin, coupled with the skillful application of their training, ensured that the visitor could return for another visit.

This World Ranger Day, a big thank you to ALL DCNR rangers for their public service.

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