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Salomon Spends Summer in SAMO

December 14th, 2010

By Sarah Pride

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

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Stephanie Salomon worked a coveted internship with the National Parks Service in summer of 2010

While her classmates struggle with term papers and tests, matters of life and death occupy senior Stephanie Salomon’s mind. At least 24 hours a week and one weekend each month, she volunteers in local Purcellville with the Volunteer Squad or the fire department. Currently, she holds the level of EMT Basic, a rank that took all of the Fall, 2009 semester to earn.

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

This History major has “always been interested in parks and law enforcement,” and she “loves emergency medicine,” she says. To become a Park Ranger Intern in the summer of 2010, she applied to the Student Conservation Association at the start of the year. The Santa Monica Mountains (SAMO), among the southernmost mountain ranges in the United States, lies near where Salomon’s family lives. It includes mountains, beaches, Paramount Ranch, and the whole city of Malibu. Rangers in SAMO handle “brush fires, filming permits, and our share of people doing bad things,” Salomon explains.

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

She also finished most of her studying for her PHC distance learning course while waiting for calls on these ride-alongs. Salomon found several opportunities to discuss the subject matter of her course, which happened to be Principles of Biblical Reasoning (PBR), with her comrades during the summer. For example, after her PBR final, Salomon was able to explain apologetics to a fellow ranger on the lengthy ride to a continuing education class.

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.