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Margaret Anderson: Retired ranger talks of job stress

Post by Jeff Mayor / The News Tribune on Jan. 1, 2012 at 6:15 pm with No Comments »
January 1, 2012 7:02 pm

A lone ranger making a traffic stop is one of the most intense situations rangers face while working at Mount Rainier National Park, said a former park ranger.

“You never know who you are going to deal with,” said John Wilcox, who worked at the park for 28 years, including as a law enforcement ranger.

“You’re all alone, miles from any kind of backup. It would take a long time for any backup to reach you. Your only connection is that person in the communication center,” he said.

Wilcox, who retired in 2000, talked about the situations faced by the park’s small cadre of law enforcement rangers following Sunday’s shooting death of Margaret Anderson.

Looking back on his experiences, Wilcox recalled the stress that came while simply patrolling the road from Paradise to Longmire after it has been closed for the night.

Occasionally people would drive around the half-closed gate at Longmire, still thinking the road was open.

“As you’re coming down, all of a sudden you see headlights coming at you and you find yourself in a traffic stop,” Wilcox said. “You never know what type of person you were going to deal with.

“It just shocks. I’m just having trouble understanding this,” Wilcox said of Sunday’s shooting.

“National parks see every type of crime and misdemeanor you see in the big city, just less of it. Of all the years I worked there, and the years before that, I can’t think of anything this serious happening at Mount Rainier.”

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