By Sarah Pride
Patrick Henry College
Stephanie Salomon worked a coveted internship with the National Parks Service in summer of 2010
It served her well this past summer during her internship at Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SAMO) in California. When an elderly lady fell down the stairs at park headquarters, Salomon was the highest trained responder on the scene.
“She hit her head and was unconscious,” recalls Salomon. “I did a basic assessment and took her vitals. By then, the Ventura County [California] paramedics had arrived.”
Another afternoon, while staffing a distant ranger station in the park called “Satwiwa,” Salomon received a call from headquarters informing her that two hikers atop a nearby mountain were out of water and suffering from heat exhaustion. Having already completed a “killer, 95-degree hike” earlier that day, Salomon and a ranger set off on a five-mile trek up the mountain with water. They found the two teenagers doing okay and waiting in the shade.
“I enjoyed the challenge—but, boy, that day!” grins Salomon.
Working in headquarters at SAMO
Working with the “interpretive division” of the park rangers, Salomon helped people learn about “the resource,” a term for a ranger’s particular park. She staffed the visitor center, which involved manning the phones, cash register, and bookstore. She also headed up two tours, or “programs,” in different areas of the park and maintained the emergency medical supplies by going through all the rangers’ kits and ordering what was needed.
“I like EMS stuff,” she says, “so going through the catalog for me was like being a kid in a candy store.”
Salomon rode along with local fire stations on her days off from her internship. On her eight rides with four different stations, she witnessed her first structure fire and her first person DOA, or dead on arrival. She also “discovered the power of glucose.” An eight-year-old with a history of cancer proved largely unresponsive until they administered glucose.
“Five minutes later, he was asking if he would have to go back to school,” Salomon recalls.
Salomon interning at Harper's Ferry, where she worked as a seamstress and served in the general store
One day, Salomon says, she would love to work as a park, although she knows how hard it is to land a ranger job. The national parks system employs only about 2000 rangers nationwide.
“The job is all about helping people,” she says. “The more I did it, the more I loved it. It includes everything from driving government trucks, to historical research, to hiking.”
The previous summer, Salomon interned at Harper’s Ferry National Park, where she will be working again in spring of 2011. Next fall, she plans to go through law enforcement training, which will equip her to be a law enforcement ranger. This hard-working young woman may be walking an unorthodox path, but she is doing so with persistence and creativity. Her life, it appears, will be an ongoing adventure.