New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Forest Rangers respond to search and rescue incidents throughout New York State. 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 and engage in policing on New York State Lands.
What follows is a report, prepared by DEC, of recent missions carried out by Forest Rangers.
Town of Lysander, Onondaga County
Wilderness Rescue: On Jan. 28 at 3:15 p.m., Forest Ranger Chappell responded to a call for a subject who fell through the ice at Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. An Oswego County Sheriff’s Office drone pilot spotted the subject and helped direct rescue crews to the location. At 4:10 p.m., Ranger Chappell and members of the Phoenix Fire Department located the 38-year-old from Baldwinsville.
The subject was walking along the marshy area in hip waders when he fell through ice approximately one and half inches thick – not thick enough for walking. Although the subject’s hip waders flooded, he was able to get to an island to remove the hip waders, move around to keep warm, and call 911. Ranger Chappell worked with the Belgium Cold Springs Fire Department using an inflatable boat to pull the subject to safety.
Greater Baldwinsville Ambulance Corps treated the subject for mild hypothermia and checked on the rescuers. Resources were clear at 5:30 p.m. New York State Police, North West Fire District, and Onondaga Sheriff’s Office also responded.
Town of Wilmington, Essex County
Wilderness Rescue: On Jan. 28 at 4:25 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a group of five hikers who lost the trail on Whiteface Mountain. At 5:52 p.m., Forest Rangers learned one of the hikers had injured their ankle. Ranger Black served as Incident Commander with six Rangers in the first wave of responders and another six Rangers and three members of Search and Rescue of the Northern Adirondacks (SARNAK) prepared to assist with carry-out efforts.
At 10:30 p.m., Rangers reached the hiking group from New Jersey, checked out the injured ankle, provided extra layers for warmth for all five subjects, and helped walk the group down the trail. Resources were clear at 1:22 a.m.
Town of Belfast, Allegany County
Wilderness Search: On Jan. 29 at 12:45 a.m., Allegany County 911 requested Forest Ranger Assistance in the search for a missing 13-year-old from Belfast. Five Rangers were joined by New York State Police (NYSP) Troopers, NYSP Canine Unit, NYSP Drone Unit, and the Allegany County Sherriff’s Office Drone Unit. In the dark, crews followed footprints in the snow for miles. The subject was mostly following roadways, but also went in and out of brush.
At 11:15 a.m., rescue crews found the subject approximately eight miles from home. The teen was wearing jeans, a winter coat, and a hat, but only rubber clogs on his feet. Allegany County Medical Transport Service drove the subject to the hospital for treatment of hypothermia and frostbite. Resources were clear at 12:48 p.m. DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement, the Allegany County Fire Coordinator, Belfast Fire, and Belfast Ambulance also assisted in the search.
Read past Forest Ranger search and rescue reports here.