Rick have been involved in rescue operations for over 37 years as an employee with the Federal Government: 6 years with the U.S. Navy as a Boatswain Mate with primary responsibility for rigging, boat operations, ocean rescue, and ship to ship replenishment operations; 3 years with the U.S. Forest Service; and 29 years with the U.S. National Park Service as a Protection Ranger.
As a Protection Ranger with the USNPS for the past 29 years, Rick's primary responsibilities were Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement, EMS, and Firefighting.
Rick served at Buffalo National River in AR as a field ranger and as the Assistant SAR Team Leader. He had sole river patrol responsibility for a 16 mile section of river and performed hundreds of rescues over a 3 year period. In 1983 he was awarded the Department Valor Award (the highest valor award in the USDOI) for a rescue at Buffalo NR.
From 1985 to 2001, Rick served as the River Supervisor, District Ranger, Deputy Chief Ranger, and a 9 month stint as the Chief Ranger at New River Gorge National River/Gauley River NRA in WV. During this time he served as the Search and Rescue Coordinator and Team Leader, and was responsible for all Protection Operations including SAR, LE, EMS, and Fire. During his time at New River and Gauley Rivers he developed a River Rescue Training program that involved the NPS rangers as well as all 23 River Outfitters on the New/Gauley Rivers, thereby promoting cooperation and professionalism on the two rivers and spearheading a program that is still in existence today. He also worked with the WV Whitewater Commission, and the Professional Outfitters Association to promote joint training, develop the State whitewater guide certification, and promote professional working relations within this diverse group.
From January 2002 to March 2007 Rick served as the District Ranger, Chief of Protection Operations (Deputy Chief), a stint as Chief Ranger, and as the Search and Rescue Coordinator and SAR Team Leader at Great Smoky Mountains National Park in TN/NC.
From 1990 to 2007 Rick served on Incident Management Teams with the USNPS in All Hazard incidents, including floods, rescues, hurricanes, tornados, fires, special events, and law enforcement incidents. From 2000 to 2007 he served as an Incident Commander for the USNPS Eastern All Hazard Incident Management Team.
Over the course of his 29 years with the USNPS Rick received the USDOI Valor Award, 7 Exemplary Act awards for Rescue, 13 Special Achievement Awards, and in 2004 was awarded the Harry Yount National Ranger of the Year Award (the highest award in the Nation for U.S. Park Rangers). At his retirement ceremony from the USNPS in March 2007 he was described as one of the most decorated Rangers in USNPS history.
Rick has been a Rescue 3 SRT Instructor since 1991, and has been performing, supervising, managing, and instructing Search and Rescue operations for over 35 years to National Park Rangers and other emergency response agencies. He currently serves as an instructor at the National Park Service sponsored Seasonal Law Enforcement and Ranger Training Academy at Southwestern Community College in Franklin, NC, and as an instructor for the National Park Service Technical Rescue Training Program which is held annually in various locations throughout the country.