National Park Service Press Release

National Park Service Recognizes 2012 Safety Excellence Award Winners
For Immediate Release:
July 12, 2013
Contact(s):   Mike Litterst, 202-513-0354

Sara Newman, 202-513-7225

National Park Service Recognizes 2012 Safety Excellence Award Winners

Washington – Employees of four national parks were recently recognized by the National Park Service for outstanding public and employee safety achievement in 2012. 

The Director’s Award was presented to Daniel Watson of Ice Age and North Country National Scenic Trails (individual category) and Canaveral National Seashore (group). 

The Andrew Clark Hecht Public Safety Achievement Award for an individual was given to Robert Fleming of Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the group award was given to the Preventive Search and Rescue Team at Grand Canyon National Park.

“The safety of our employees and visitors is a top priority for the National Park Service,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis.  “I am proud to recognize the employees who exhibit great leadership and a superior work ethic to make national parks a safer place to work and visit.”

The Director’s Award recognizes significant achievements in the cultivation of a safe and healthful work environment for employees of the National Park Service. 

The Andrew Clark Hecht Public Safety Achievement Award has been given since 1998 for significant achievement in efforts to prevent serious injuries or fatalities to park visitors. Funded by a small family foundation, it is presented in memory of Andrew Clark Hecht, an 8-year-old boy who died during a visit to Yellowstone National Park with his family. 

This year’s awards:

2012 Director’s Safety and Health Achievement Award


  •  Canaveral National Seashore - Risk Management Division, and Visitor, Protection Division and   Volunteers in Parks Program (group award)

The staff at Canaveral National Seashore is commended for incident-free beach patrols during the sea turtle nesting season. Park biologists and more than 50 volunteers reported no injures, despite spending approximately 6,000 nighttime hours on all-terrain vehicles on uneven ground in various weather conditions to protect these threatened and endangered sea turtles from predators. The park provided training in proper equipment and ATV operation for all operators and program personnel; updating standard operating procedures for the Sea Turtle Nest Protection Program; and conducted daily safety tailgate sessions and safety inspections.


  •     Daniel Watson, Ice Age and North Country National Scenic Trails (individual award)

Daniel Watson was recognized for his outstanding efforts to enhance the safety and reduce injuries in the park’s Volunteers in Parks program. He secured more than $19,000 in grants for personal protective equipment and coordinated 15 chainsaw certification courses for park volunteers. Watson also developed the “Injury Reporting Kit” to streamline processes for seeking medical treatment when injured, and wrote a Tailgate Safety Series.  Park volunteers engaged in outside activities in all terrains, climates, and conditions with sharp tools and motorized equipment (such as saws and mowers), practiced safe work practices, and experienced a very low injury rate.


2012 Andrew Clark Hecht Public Safety Achievement Award


  •  Preventive Search and Rescue Team, Grand Canyon National Park (group award)
  • The team was recognized for its effort to reduce visitor injuries and hiker assists by reaching out to hikers before they head off down the trail. The team uses safety messaging, visitor education, and promotion of safe hiking techniques. They increased trail patrol hours and made about 80,000 trail contacts with visitors during the 2012 summer season. Nearly 33,000 hikers were not properly prepared for the trail and rangers suggested alternative itineraries and coached them on proper hydration, food intake, rest, and shade.   The team’s prevention efforts have saved the federal government nearly $500,000 in reduced search and rescue costs.


  •   Robert Fleming, Great Smoky Mountains National Park (individual award)

Robert Fleming is commended for his safety coordination of the Synchronous Firefly Display, an annual event which attracts more than 12,000 visitors. There were no injuries during the event.  Using Operational Leadership Principles in the planning process and during the event, Fleming implemented a comprehensive safety plan which included posting safety precautions on the park website, initiating interactive foot patrols to educate visitors on unsafe activities, and providing a variety of actions to ensure the safety of staff and visitors during the event.


Six other regional winners and national finalists were also recognized for outstanding efforts to enhance employee and visitor safety.  Those recognized are:

Director’s Safety and Health Achievement Award

  •        Arthur Lapre of Grand Canyon National Park
  •        Jon Makaike of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
  •        Maintenance Division of Voyageurs National Park


Andrew Clark Hecht Public Safety Achievement Award

·    William Bryan, CDR Matthew Weinburke, Tom Medema, and Kevin Killian, Yosemite National Park and Dr. Danielle Buttke and CDR Adam Kramer, Washington Support Office

·       Staffs of Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, and Obed Wild and Scenic River

·       William Archard, Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area




About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at

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