News from the DNR Office of Communications

Park Rangers' Quick Action Saves Life of Employee

Berlin, Md. (October 13, 2009) - Maryland Park Service recently presented Assateague State Park Rangers Mike Riley and J.C. Barbely with Valor Awards in recognition of their life-saving efforts in May.

“Maryland Park Service Rangers are trained as first responders to handle situations like these,” said MPS Superintendent Nita Settina. “I am proud that our talented and dedicated park service staff is alert and ready to take action in dangerous circumstances to protect both their fellow employees and the millions of visitors to our State Parks.”

For Assateague State Park Seasonal Maintenance Employee Upshure Coard, May 19 started off as any regular, busy day. Around noon, Coard relaxed and joined his fellow employees and park staff in the lunchroom. While eating a sandwich, Coard began to choke, trying to cough, but unable to dislodge the piece of food blocking his airway. Fortunately for Coard, trained first responder and Park Manager Mike Riley recognized his distress and immediately came to his aid.

“It all happened so fast,” said Riley as he explained the quick action of the day. “I saw him start to cough and choke and just as I asked him what was wrong, that’s when I saw that he was going to pass out.”

Riley caught Coard just as he began to pass out and fall to the floor. Just behind him was Assistant Park Manager and EMT-I Ranger J.C. Barbely, who sprung into action providing several abdominal thrusts until the food particle became dislodged and Corde began to breathe again.

“I sure am glad they were here,” said Coard, who expressed his gratitude to the two Rangers for their heroic actions.

Maryland Park Service Rangers are trained as first responders with a 40-hour training course and yearly in-service training and skills practice through the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems.

   October 13, 2009

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 461,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at