News Stories

Rangers Congregate for Annual Training

Published May 16, 2018

Nearly 40 rangers from across the Wilmington District (SAW) came together to participate in annual training which was held earlier this year at Haw River State Park in Brown Summit, N.C. The training was extended by four hours in response to rangers’ concerns that there wasn’t enough time to adequately address topics such as unarmed self-defense skills and Verbal Defense and Influence (formerly Verbal Judo).  With the support of District Operations, the planning team, led by Natural Resources Specialist Carmen Boyette, powered ahead with setting up the training at Haw River and fine-tuning the extended agenda.  Having extra time meant being able to break rangers up into smaller groups which made the scenarios more meaningful.

   Several subject matter experts within the District provided the majority of training.  Ranger Crystal Triplette (W. Kerr Scott Lake) is the Lead Instructor for Visitor Assistance training.  Ranger Triplette, who served as a national Visitor Assistance instructor, is also a pepper spray instructor.  She was assisted by Ranger Stacee Henderson (Falls Lake) who is certified in Verbal Defense and Influence. Pepper spray instructors included: Dan Laprad (Philpott), Francis Ferrell (Piedmont Ops), and Alyson Parker (John H. Kerr).  Danny Martin, formerly a ranger at Philpott Lake, and currently a Henry County, VA deputy, taught self-defense and drug awareness. Jory Shepherd (Lakes Support) assisted with logistics and coordination of the refresher course.

   According to evaluations provided by rangers, the hands-on scenarios and culminating courtroom scene were among the favorite activities of the training.  A scenario depicting an encroachment on Government property was acted out by rangers and videoed.  The video was later played in the classroom and the case taken to court in a culminating scenario which showed the case from start to finish.  Some rangers have not gone to court on behalf of the Government and this scenario was a good example of how court may be conducted.

   Most of the rangers stayed on-site at Haw River which permitted instructors to lead several optional nighttime activities as well.  Approaching vehicles at night on campsites or in day use parks is something our rangers are routinely faced with.  How to safely approach a vehicle at night was demonstrated by Danny Martin. Also, instructors offered additional unarmed self-defense training after hours as an optional activity. Rangers also had a little time to tour the Haw River State Park area which includes hiking trails, a small lake and disc golf course.

   Many times the rangers at our lakes on patrol are the only interaction the public has with the Corps of Engineers.  This is why annual Visitor Assistance Refresher is not only required by regulation but is also critical for the success of our lake projects. However, some incidents are not pleasant and may even place our rangers in dangerous situations.  So the next time you see a SAW ranger be sure to thank them for keeping our parks safe!