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Old 07-16-2018, 06:16 PM   #1
Justin
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No Other Options (Rock Pond Tragedy)

Just passing along this story I read today about a first hand account of the fatal incident that occurred at Rock Pond near Putnam Pond this past spring...
So sad! My condolences to Lynn’s friends & family.

https://www.overthereef.com/no-other-options/
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:09 PM   #2
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Wow!
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:13 PM   #3
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NYSDEC Emergency Dispatch for the Adirondack region: 518–891-0235
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:16 PM   #4
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Rock Pond Tragedy

Wow that's quite a story, having an INREACH or SPOT devise is worth it in situations like this. Also knowing the Forest Rangers Phone # would have also helped for the area your in. My condolences to Lynn’s friends & family as well sorry for the outcome.
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:18 PM   #5
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Wow that's quite a story, having an INREACH or SPOT devise is worth it in situations like this.
Perhaps something licensed guides should be required to have in case of an emergency.

Last edited by Justin; 07-16-2018 at 08:53 PM..
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:30 PM   #6
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That really hits home. Thanks for posting.
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Old 07-16-2018, 08:50 PM   #7
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That's a very sad situation for sure. I always have at least one National Geographic map with me when I'm in the Adirondacks, and they have the Ranger number on them, though whether I would have the presence of mind to take the map with me when going to find a phone in an emergency situation like that is highly doubtful. It's certainly something for me to bear in mind in case it should ever arise.
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Old 07-16-2018, 09:22 PM   #8
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I have been on a SAR team for more than 20 years and over that time I have heard other horror stories about involving the wrong assistance from inexperienced law enforcement agencies or fire departments and of them being either incompetent, unorganized and inexperienced for the task, or otherwise screwing things up. None as bad as this story, with its eventual sad consequences, however. She may well have survived with earlier physical extraction and proper prompt medical assistance. On a search just last week we had to extract a trooper from my group to the road who could not handle the exertion of being on a search line. Others later chose to leave early in the day for the same reason. On rainy days I have had troopers attempt to walk the woods through heavy brush in their long rain slickers. Other times I have seen fire fighters show up in their turn-out gear - heavy bulky coats and pants and big sloppy boots.

Best advice is to always call DEC dispatch to get rangers involved as soon as possible. Before you go, know or carry the number of dispatch and the name and phone numbers of the ranger assigned to the areas where you travel. It's all online on the NYSDEC website. A few years ago the DEC experimented with cutting the woods knowledgeable dispatch staff from Ray Brook and using dispatch based out of Albany instead. After a few miss directed calls by those in Albany not having a clue of the location when the caller says: "no, the other Deer Pond" or whatever, they moved them back to Ray Brook.

I do not dispute that carrying a Spot or other location device is a good idea. I do have one, but as a licensed guide myself, when I saw that comment i thought: "oh great, here comes another government regulation". I often do not even have a cell phone with me when I travel alone, but do carry one when with others, mostly for reasons of this litigious society we live in.

Zach, during a guide certification and training course that I am an instructor in, one emergency scenario exercise I always use involves asking what do you take with you as a runner to get help. A map with the incident location circled had better be in the answer.
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Old 07-16-2018, 10:08 PM   #9
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It seems to me that the local agencies, when faced with a situation like this in which they are clearly out of their element, should involve the rangers as soon as possible. And from this account it seems that did not happen. Putting this on the guys who went for help for not calling the right people seems unjust. The 911 dispatcher should have known immediatly to involve the rangers. If not them, then the fire dept. That this got a few hours in before anyone even called the rangers is criminal, in my opinion, and someone on the local level should be held accountable.
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Old 07-16-2018, 10:16 PM   #10
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It seems to me that the local agencies, when faced with a situation like this in which they are clearly out of their element, should involve the rangers as soon as possible.
It wasn't the fault of the runners going for help, as they did their best with what they knew. Most people are programmed to simply call 911 for any emergency. I have seen evidence that with any agency that gets the first call, they therefore become the "lead agency", and thus get to claim credit for the expected outcome of successfully saving a life (which is always good P.R. to justify funding). I've been on searches wherein local LE was the lead, even above the DEC and rangers when in non-wilderness situations, and the incident was rather poorly managed as a result. Can't prove it in any particular case, just say'n what I and others observe.
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Old 07-16-2018, 10:37 PM   #11
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A compelling case for always calling the DEC first. But as you said, most people are wired to call 911 and can hardly be faulted for that.

Perhaps a law or regulation that states unequivocably that the DEC is the agency in charge in any back country emergency situation would be helpful.
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Old 07-16-2018, 10:53 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Wldrns View Post

I do not dispute that carrying a Spot or other location device is a good idea. I do have one, but as a licensed guide myself, when I saw that comment i thought: "oh great, here comes another government regulation". I often do not even have a cell phone with me when I travel alone, but do carry one when with others, mostly for reasons of this litigious society we live in.
We also live in a society where modern backcountry technology might help save someone’s life if & when needed where old school traditional practices may fall short. I’m not a licensed guide but if the government made it mandatory for all backcountry travelers (especially licensed guides) to carry a PLB, Spot, InReach, or similar device I’d be ok with that.
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Old 07-17-2018, 12:16 AM   #13
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Let me preface this by saying, I understand Joe's frustration but I do not agree with his tactics (in publishing what he wrote) or his assessment of response.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wldrns View Post
I have seen evidence that with any agency that gets the first call, they therefore become the "lead agency", and thus get to claim credit for the expected outcome of successfully saving a life (which is always good P.R. to justify funding).
Maybe, but the agency that gets the first call has the legal responsibility (liability) for handling the call (to the best of their abilities).
Thus when county 911 dispatch receives the call for help from a landline, their first question is always street address (they don't get GPS coordinates). They need this info to create a "ticket" in the system.

It is up to the calling party, upon being asked "what is the nature of your emergency?" to tell the dispatcher that they need to be connected to DEC Ray Brook Dispatch (that this is a state lands incident and DEC and State Police need to be notified ASAP).

Calling DEC Dispatch number directly is preferred, but not always possible.

PLB only provides location coordinates, not accurate assessment of situation. Latter is critical for efficient response. Accurate location may speed up response or may not.

Contrary to Joe's complaint, if authorities were notified at 0005 and Forest Rangers showed up at the launch at 0400 with all their gear, in the middle of the storm, with possible other emergencies happening at the same time the response time is reasonable (under the circumstances).

Sorry to say, but when he wrote "I think we would have been better off paddling to the launch, driving to the 24-hour Walmart in Ticonderoga, buying a couple cheap chainsaws and shovels, and paddling back out there ourselves." Joe lost all credibility.

Creative writing is one thing, critical thinking and detailed assessment of situation are another. Details such as what diameter the pinning object is and which part of the body is pinned are critical details that are either omitted or just weren't noted in the first place.
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Old 07-17-2018, 12:48 AM   #14
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We also live in a society where modern backcountry technology might help save someone’s life if & when needed where old school traditional practices may fall short. I’m not a licensed guide but if the government made it mandatory for all backcountry travelers (especially licensed guides) to carry a PLB, Spot, InReach, or similar device I’d be ok with that.
Ok, I am a lifelong conservative follower of government guidelines and regulations (and I do receive a government paycheck for doing so), but I will draw the line when in the future I am told I must leave a trail of marker of flags behind my every move, just as I leave a string line now behind me during a SAR grid search.

Many know that I am an occasional canoe racer on the Yukon River, racing as much as 1000 miles several times. SPOT is required equipment for tracking us by race officials and incidentally by family and friends who have the URL. Useful both for curiosity and potentially for safety in case of emergency problems. Post-race SPOT data analysis of other fast competitive canoes allows me to make improvements and modifications to my own selected navigation river route for next time. The race carry SPOT requirement is ok with me, but if I want to take a solo stroll in the Adirondacks, I prefer to take the traditional practice precautions. I have never seen a DEC ranger carry such a device. They are not issued to them and I am pretty sure that few personally have one. As proven during a recent and previous search incidents, even the radios they carry do not have infinite reach.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:20 AM   #15
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NYSDEC Emergency Dispatch for the Adirondack region: 518–891-0235
Is that for emergencies only? Is there another number for "regular" ranger-related stuff? I googled it, but only saw the this number and 408-5850, both listed as "emergency contact."
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:33 AM   #16
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Is that for emergencies only? Is there another number for "regular" ranger-related stuff? I googled it, but only saw the this number and 408-5850, both listed as "emergency contact."
NYSDEC Headquarters in...

Ray Brook: 518-897–1200

Warrensburg: 518-623-1200

Northville: 518-863-4545 or 518-863-2833

Other offices & headquarters can be found here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/558.html

NYSDEC Ranger roster & phone numbers for Region 5: https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/677.html

NYSDEC Ranger roster & phone numbers for Region 6: https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/679.html

Last edited by Justin; 07-17-2018 at 09:44 AM..
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:57 AM   #17
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NYSDEC Headquarters in...

Ray Brook: 518-897–1200

Warrensburg: 518-623-1200

Northville: 518-863-4545 or 518-863-2833

Other offices & headquarters can be found here: https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/558.html

NYSDEC Ranger roster & phone numbers for Region 5: https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/677.html

NYSDEC Ranger roster & phone numbers for Region 6: https://www.dec.ny.gov/about/679.html
Thank you, sir.
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Old 07-17-2018, 09:58 AM   #18
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There is a tremendous amount of valuable information to be found on the NYSDEC web page (http://www.dec.ny.gov) and its sub-pages. Although it can be difficult to navigate to the many pages with information you may want, it is definitely worthwhile to take the time to investigate what is available. You can even sign up to receive periodic email containing subjects of interest that you select, including special announcements, news items and press releases, and synopses of recent SAR incidents. http://www.dec.ny.gov/public/65855.html

Rangers at their listed phone numbers can sometimes be difficult to reach on first attempt (as they tend to be very busy people), but if you leave a voice message, in my experience they are usually quick to respond when they are able. If you develop a personal relationship with the rangers in areas that you frequent, they may give you inside information and personal contact numbers as well.

Edit: But in an emergency situation, the Dispatch number is always the first choice to get aid and response, rather than trying to contact an individual ranger at that critical time.
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Old 07-17-2018, 10:08 AM   #19
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From personal experience, if you attempt to contact a DEC ranger directly, you might just get their voicemail. They're busy people and don't always have time to answer their phone (or are simply out or range of a cell tower).

I have contacted rangers directly, predominately to get information. Results varied from getting through immediately, leaving a message and receiving a callback, not receiving a callback, and reaching a full voice-mailbox.

In the event of an emergency, I'd contact DEC Dispatch directly and let them take care of organizing a response.


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Ninja'd by Wldrns!
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Old 07-17-2018, 03:06 PM   #20
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Thanks for the link and the sobering story. Regardless of how well Joe presented his information or his assessment of the emergency responders, there are lessons in there for everyone. A tree falling on me in the middle of the night is my worst fear while camping. I don't worry about animals or weather or people. In the ADKs, I've seen far too many trees laying horizontal on the ground to think that its a sporadic thing. I think a good portion of them do so because of the shallow soil depth and most of the ADKs are nothing more than a dry-ish swamp.

I printed a PDF of the ranger numbers and saved it to my phone. I carry an inReach with a text function during hunting season when I'm sometimes alone. I haven't had to use the SOS function, but it is comforting to know that it is there.
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