GRAND CANYON, Ariz. - Ken Phillips, a 29-year veteran of the National Park Service (NPS), has been selected as the chief of the Service's Branch of Search and Rescue (SAR). He assumes his duties this week.
In this position, Phillips will manage the NPS SAR program and serve as the coordinator of the newly developed National SAR Academy (NSARA, a six-week long program which will provide entry-level employees with comprehensive SAR training. NSARA will be based in Northern Arizona in order to take advantage of the challenging rescue environments available throughout the region.
"Ken's knowledge and skills will become the catalyst to advance the structure and capabilities of the NPS SAR program," said Dean Ross, deputy chief of the Division of Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Services, who announced Ken's new role.
Phillips said he is honored to be tasked with his new role.
"It is an opportunity to standardize training and safe work practices for NPS SAR personnel," Phillips said. "The NPS has an excellent history of conducting life-saving SAR operations, but it is overshadowed by 31 tragic line-of-duty deaths."
Phillips now serves as the branch chief for emergency services at Grand Canyon. In this position, he has directed the EMS, structural fire, SAR and the preventative SAR programs for the park. The park EMS program, one of the busiest in the NPS, handles over 1200 incidents annually. Ken serves as a law enforcement park ranger and paramedic.
During his time at Grand Canyon, Phillips has upgraded emergency equipment, incorporated training focused on emergency responder safety, and incorporated crew resource management concepts borrowed from the aviation industry into emergency response activities.
During 2007, he co-led an NPS search team in the Zongo Valley of Bolivia to assist the Peace Corps during the search for a missing volunteer. He has served since 2000 as a United States delegate to the air rescue sub-commission of the International Commission on Alpine Rescue (IKAR) in Europe.Phillips coordinated the National Park Service's basic technical rescue training program for twelve years at Canyonlands and wrote the NPS basic technical rescue textbook. He is currently the incident commander for the NPS ESF-9 land SAR incident management team.
Before his assignment at Grand Canyon, Phillips worked at Pinnacles as SAR coordinator, seasonal park ranger at Grand Canyon, interpreter at Lehman Caves (now Great Basin), and interpreter at Cabrillo. Prior to joining the NPS, he worked seasonally for the California State Park System.
Phillips will be attached to NPS headquarters in Washington and stationed remotely in Flagstaff, where he currently resides.