National Park Rangers Do More Than Give Directions

By: Aaron Luna Email
By: Aaron Luna Email

"This is the first thing I do really at the start of my shift, set up this radar trailer," says Colorado National Monument Park Ranger Frank Hayde.

But instead of an office, "you can see the Redlands fault," he's got a monument. And while traffic enforcement is the most common duty for Hayde it's not his only one. Hayde says he wears many different hats, "So my duties emphasize law enforcement, emergency medical services, search and rescue, fire fighting." His responsibilities are so diverse he has to be ready for anything.

"A lot of people are surprised when they see a park ranger carrying a gun and performing typical police work, but that's a big part of our job," says Hayde.

Last year at the Monument 26 people attempted suicide, up significantly from the year before. Hayde says, "a lot of the same things that happen in town happen in the monument." Which is why Hayde trains with suicide councilors and has even helped a woman in trouble at serpents trail.

Hayde recalls that situation; "Noticed a suicide note and a lot of prescription pill bottles on the passenger seat." Hayde then went to the drivers side window to check on the woman. "I was walking back to my vehicle to get my medical pack." He was about to radio for an ambulance when things changed. "I saw her bring a hand gun up into the air along side her head like this," says Hayde. The call was no longer just medical.

Hayde says he had to act. "I drew my own weapon took cover behind my vehicle and fortunately I was able to disarm her." A good outcome for both ranger and park visitor. Hayde has only been at the Monument for about a year but has been a park ranger for about 15.

Hayde says he plans to work at the Monument for quite some time. "It's the opportunity to work in the outdoors in some of the most beautiful majestic places in the United States."

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