Thursday, May 30, 2013
Staff at Navajo National Monument recently completed comprehensive search and rescue and emergency medical training in order to be able to quickly and effectively respond to incidents occurring in the remotely-located park.
Park staff achieved nearly 100 percent completion of a number of courses – Type 3 search and rescue technician (SRT3), ICS, Operational Leadership, First Responder, CPR, defibrillation, and national incident management systems training.
Backcountry and frontcountry exercises provided pre-planning and hands-on practical experience, with facilitated debriefings focusing on lessons learned.
“I am proud of what this park has achieved in a short time,” said search and rescue instructor Ken Phillips at the conclusion of the most recent SAR field exercise. “The level of enthusiasm and willingness to learn is evident in what they've accomplished.”
Over the last two years, volunteers, employees and partners at the park have focused on safety. Although the park and local emergency services partners collaborate on a variety of issues, response times can be considerable due to the distances involved and the volume of calls faced.
Last year, the small park staff had to deal with three search incidents in a one month period, all successfully resolved. Often such incidents begin at the end of the scheduled work day when a visitor has failed to return from a long hike in steep, rugged and complex canyon terrain.
Over the past two years, a number of people and organizations have worked closely with the park to address existing issues and help ensure a safer work and visitor environment. These included Southern Four Corners Group law enforcement staff, zone safety manager David Kane, NPS search and rescue branch chief Ken Phillips, SAR instructor Bil Vandergraff, and Intermountain Region’s visitor and resource protection team, safety and occupational health office, wildland fire and structural fire offices, facilities and lands group, and Public Health Service office.