Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area’s high angle rescue (HAR) team was recently accredited by the Mountain Rescue Association (MRA), joining 13 other parks whose teams have already received MRA accreditation, including Denali, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Grand Teton, and Mount Rainier.
Delaware Water Gap NRA is the first and only NPS area to be recognized by the MRA in their Appalachian Region, which extends along the eastern seaboard from Maine to Georgia and west to Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.
The Mountain Rescue Association was established in 1959 as a non-profit professional association of mountain rescue units and has over 100 member teams in the United States and Canada. It is the oldest search and rescue association in the United States and is dedicated to saving lives through mountain safety education.
MRA also provides critical training programs in technical rescue operations, annual seminars, and a system for accrediting teams that meet the organizations stringent requirements for rescue capabilities. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area will co-host the annual MRA conference in 2014.
Delaware Water Gap’s search and rescue program includes its specialized HAR team, which is comprised of over 40 highly skilled members who are able to perform technical rescue operations in the most difficult terrain, including steep ravines and cliffs. The team works closely with partner organizations, including the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the Division of State Parks and Forestry, and other nearby NPS areas. It also includes professionals from several other area agencies.
“We are extremely proud of the hard work and dedication put forth by the members of our HAR team,” said Superintendent John Donahue of his staff. “They are a highly skilled and well trained group of professional rescuers who provide assistance to numerous park visitors who get injured or find themselves in situations that they can’t get themselves out of each year.”
The team also provides technical assistance and expertise to the surrounding community.