Just a few weeks removed from a deadly Appalachian Trail attack in Southwest Virginia, the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has announced more ways for people to report suspicious behavior and incidents on the trail.
The ATC released the following information today on their Facebook page.
The ATC is encouraging people to follow these four steps if they encounter an incident.
- Anytime you or another Trail visitor needs medical attention or a law-enforcement response, including threats to your personal safety, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY, even if you are uncertain if it is a crime. If possible, ask the 911 dispatcher to contact the National Park Service 24-Hour Dispatch/Communications Center to inform them of the situation: 1.866.677.6677.
If you are not in immediate danger but witness suspicious behavior, have a bad feeling about someone, observe vandalism on the A.T., or just feel like something should be reported, contact the National Park Service 24-Hour Dispatch/Communications Center to inform them of the situation: 1.866.677.6677.
If you are in a situation where you need an immediate response but are unable to make a phone call or might put yourself at risk by making a call, send an email with as much information as possible (who, what, when, where, and why) to firstname.lastname@example.org.
After completing step 1, 2, and/or 3: if you are able to submit a detailed report about an incident, such as damage to the Trail, bad behavior at campsites/on trail, a missing or delayed hiker, or a person(s) of concern, please complete and submit the A.T. Incident Report Form. This provides more context about the situation, potential witnesses, and other details that could help with an investigation.
You can also view these steps at the ATC website.
The ATC said the trail is a safe place – but they’re working to make communication even stronger after a hiker was murdered last weekend.
“One of the things we want to make sure is streamlining the reporting process, making sure that people are able to quickly let us know and the rest of the AT community know if an incident has occurred,” Jordan Bowman with the ATC recently told News Channel 11. “We were able to report the incident and everything going on pretty quickly, that can always go faster.”