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JEFFERSON CITY, MO, JAN. 31, 2022 - Erika Burns, a state park ranger with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Missouri State Parks, was selected as the January 2022 State of Missouri and department Team Member of the Month. Burns was selected for her dedication to the Ranger Program as well as her quick response to assist the occupant of a partially submerged vehicle during a flash flood emergency.

In June 2021, Burns encountered water covering the roadway along Highway K near the McBaine trailhead of Katy Trail State Park where she observed a vehicle in the water with only portions of the roof and windshield visible.

After assessing the situation, she noticed an individual had exited the vehicle and was in need of assistance. After Burns called for emergency medical services, she donned her personal flotation device, attached a rope, boarded a local resident’s raft and paddled to the stranded individual.

Burns secured the individual’s grip on her paddle and then had the raft’s owner pull them both to safety. The quick thinking and deliberate actions of Ranger Burns saved the stranded individual’s life.

“Ranger Burns did not hesitate even though she was the only trained responder on scene,” said Sgt. Todd Bryant, a state park ranger who nominated Burns for the award. “She put her own life in danger to rescue someone who might have drowned.”

Burns joined the Missouri Department of Natural Resources in November 2020 and resides in Fredericktown.

Erika Burns

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