New Jersey Scouts help rescue NBC journalist Ann Curry

ann-curry-photoScouts learn first-aid skills in Scouting without ever knowing when they’ll need to use them. Or on whom.

Last month a group of New Jersey Boy Scouts helped rescue the NBC journalist Ann Curry after she had broken her ankle while hiking.

On April 5, 2014, Scouts from Troop and Crew 368 out of Berkeley Heights, N.J., were on a Philmont training hike through Harriman State Park in New York.

That’s when, as Scouter Rick Jurgens told me this morning, they came across Curry. Only they didn’t know it was the Emmy-winning journalist right away.

“We were hiking along, and we came to a trail intersection,” Jurgens said, “and a lady was sitting on the ground with her one leg out. We didn’t think anything of it, but one of the guys asked if everything is OK. She said, ‘No, not really. I think I broke my ankle.’ She told us to keep going, but the guys refused.”

With no prompting from Jurgens, the Scouts sprang into action. This is what they had trained for.

“They splinted it up perfectly,” Jurgens said. “Just like in the pictures.”

Jurgens, a professional firefighter and EMT, double-checked their work and found they had made a textbook splint.

“We work on these requirements, and here’s an opportunity where it was a true test of all those First Class, Second Class first-aid requirements,” he said. “They got to use it and use it for real. And they did an outstanding job.”

Curry, in a letter she later sent to the Scouts, praised their emergency readiness, saying they went “above the call of duty.”

“Discovering I was unable to walk, and needed to get down the mountain for medical care, you immediately set about to help,” she wrote.

Not out of the woods yet

They splinted Curry’s leg, but she still needed to get down the mountain and couldn’t walk or be safely carried down the steep terrain. The Scouts again knew what to do.

“The guys on their own, with no direction from me, start running into the woods,” Jurgens said. “And she didn’t know what was going on, and I didn’t know what was going on either.”

Turns out they were finding pieces of wood for a makeshift stretcher — the same kind they teach you to make in first-aid classes. They found two strong sticks and tied on a tarp. One of the Scouts, Andrew Stecher, got on the stretcher to test its load-bearing ability. It worked.

They set the stretcher next to Curry, her ankle really swelling up now. She slid onto it, and the Scouts picked her up. Jurgens and another adult helped guide the Scouts and point out rocks along their path.

In good spirits throughout

Curry’s skillful reporting has taken her to Iraq, Congo, Iran, Sudan and other areas of international crisis. So, Jurgens said, it’s no surprise this situation didn’t seem to raise Curry’s blood pressure too much.

“She was in a good mood, asking us about our Philmont trip,” Jurgens said. “She wanted to hear what brought us to Harriman State Park.”

Curry’s husband and son went ahead to get their SUV and drive it to the trailhead. The Scouts helped Curry into the front seat of the car, and before they left, Curry’s husband thanked the Scouts.

“He told us, ‘You guys are the best,'” Jurgens said. “‘I don’t know what I would do without you guys.'”

Curry’s husband wrote down Jurgens’ contact info and left for the hospital.

What happened next

Once Curry and her family had driven away, the forest rangers arrived.

“They asked, ‘Is there somebody up there who needs rescuing?’ And we said, ‘It’s taken care of,'” Jurgens said.

Jurgens praised the Scouts for a fantastic job. Then he broke some news to them.

“I said, ‘Do you know who that woman was? That was Ann Curry.'”

Jurgens had recognized Curry, and her iconic voice, right away. But not all the Scouts in his troop and crew are avid news-watchers. So Chris Tribuna, acting crew leader, took out his phone and showed them Curry is a national news anchor who has interviewed pretty much everyone.

The Scouts were floored by all the famous people she had interviewed, exotic assignments she had covered and adventures she had been on.

Even after that, one Scout in the group didn’t believe it was Ann Curry. That is, until a few weeks later when he got a letter.

A call, and a letter, from Curry

Last week, Jurgens got a phone call from a number he didn’t recognize.

“She said, ‘Hi, is this Rick? This is Ann Curry, the lady you rescued on Bear Mountain.’ She was really great and really appreciative. She said she underestimated the Boy Scouts of America. She was just mesmerized that a bunch of 14-, 15- and 16-year-olds came together and got her down the mountain,” Jurgens said.

Curry got the addresses of everyone who was there that day and sent each a hand-signed letter thanking them for their “skill and professionalism.” See the letter below.

“I feel enormously lucky you came along at just the right moment, and were so willing to help a stranger in need,” she wrote. “You are a credit to the Boy Scouts and to your families, and I want you to know I am deeply grateful for your kindness and skill.”

Update, May 9: Curry Tweeted (to her 1.4 million followers) her thanks to the Scouts of Troop 368:

My takeaways

What I love about this story is that while this one has a famous name associated with it, these types of stories happen all the time in Scouting. It’s what Scouts train for.

“No matter who that was, we would’ve done the same exact thing,” Jurgens said. “The guys didn’t know this was a special person at first and treated her with the most dignified respect. It was all on the guys.”

Speaking of, I was moved by how little credit Jurgens was willing to take for his role.

“I wish I could say, I told them to do this and that,” Jurgens said, “but they did it all on their own.”

The Scouts

From left: Devon McLean, Michael Middlebrook, Joe McLaughlin, Christopher Friedlander, Chris Pirone, Mark Trella, Andrew Stecher and Chris Tribuna.
Not pictured: Peter Krasny

curry-boy-scouts

Curry’s letter

Click to enlarge

curry-letter

106 Comments

  1. It’s good that someone in her position can see first hand the value in scouting. The national media has spent a good deal of time bashing the scouts and trying to make them look like something they are not.

    • It did not make the news because the “News” is not about reporting what happened. The “news” is about conforming popular opinion to the agenda of the news agency and it’s owners. This applies to virtually all news organizations in the world today.

  2. That is what scouting all about. I proud of all the scout in scouting that helps his fellow man

  3. That’s what the Boy Scouts of America produce … Good, hardworking people who go above and beyond for strangers. If only more people did the same, our county would be a better place. I have been involved in BSA for 15 years and cannot praise them enough for their ability to make great men out of little boys.

    • Each and every one of them. I just hope some naysayer doesn’t nix it because of some “decorating versus developing” fantasy.

  4. It is a fantastic story!…What bothers me that it isn’t being really reported…Even by Ann Curry of all people…..She was served a grapefruit of a story and has shelved it….I think it is great that she drafted a nice letter, but she is a journalist and I would expect a lot more!

    • Maybe she’s been busy recovering and will do a story when she’s up and about. She said it would take 10-12 weeks to heal…it’s been what, five since it happened?

    • I broke my ankle really bad this last December. It takes time to heal and she is at the beginning stage of healing. I couldn’t even take a step until 10 weeks post op. She did a lot to write to all the boys. I bet she will do more when she can. This is a great story. I cried because I understand how amazing it was for those boys to be in the right place at the right time and to really know how to help her. My sons are Eagle scouts.

    • I really hate to say it, but this story would have received a lot more press if one of the Scouts involved had been admitted due to “new membership standards”. THAT is what the mass media are waiting for. And I suspect some at national as well.

      • On my Facebook page the next two “related stories” are these:

        “Boy Scouts of America Shuts Down Troop For Standing By Gay Scoutmaster”

        “Boy Scouts Sever Ties With Seattle Church Over Gay Scoutmaster”

        I rest my case.

  5. I Image Ann Curry will do a story on boy scouting when she can do it justice rather than through her limited time with them. Her actions are admirable in acknowledging each boy individually rather than simply through their troop leader. She is a through journalist and will serve them well when the time comes.

  6. This is a wonderful story. Scouts are the future leaders of our communities. They are taught independent & group thinking for all situations, Most Presidents of the United States in the twentieth century have been Boy Scouts with the rank of Eagle. Great job Scouts,

    • While I agree with your sentiment, only one President of the United States has been an Eagle Scout — Gerald Ford.

      • I’m our Pack’s Cubmaster; I asked this question in a game show-type game. The Cubs had to “phone a parent” (ask someone w/a smartphone to Google it). Many Presidents were Scouts, but (so far) only one Eagle!

  7. How awesome to read about what our scouts are taught to do. Well done boys! I will be sure to share this info in my district here in Northern Illinois. Blackhawk Area Council, Wetassa District. Glad to see good news about Scouting, rather than bad news.We need more good news stories like this. Bryan, thanks for getting the word out.

  8. Being a scouter for over 25 years , reading this really made my day, congratulations to them for “Being prepared ” and ” Doing a good turn ” all at one time.
    Enjoy Philmont, I know I did

    • Made my day too Bill ! I’m so proud to have been a Scouter for 17 years and hear a great story like this. I’m not surprised at all just filled with joy. The Scout program really does not receive enough positive recognition for the wonderful youth group that it is. I’ve witnessed so many amazing things through Scouting and watched my son follow the trail to Eagle. Look at those awesome faces – Kudos to you guys in Troop 368!!!!

  9. This is what we train our boys for. Good job guys! Chip Olson, Commissioner Great Southwest Council

  10. My husband a Scoutmaster tells his boys all the time if there was a plane wreck everyone would turn to them for help. Great story

    • Really? I believe her husband and son went down the mountain to retrieve the vehicle to take her to the hospital. These scouts were quite capable in getting her down the mountain safely. Are you the fellow that just can’t appreciate a good story?

    • Yup, he should have carried her on his back which the scouts decided was too dangerous. Or he could have gone off into the woods and chopped down two strong sticks, with tools he didn’t have, and lashed on a tarp, which he didn’t have, and he and his son could have carried the stretcher down the mountain. A job that probably took at least four scouts not counting two looking out for rocks.

  11. Fantastic story! It’s nice to read about Boy Scouts in action for a change. I’ve grown tired of hearing about token celebrities or news media bashing the organization. Great job guys!

  12. Awesome job! I hope my Cubs will be able to do something as remarkable as this someday. Be prepared. I would say you have nailed it.

  13. FANTASTIC STORY! I’ve been a part of the Scouting program since I was a youth and now my son is an Eagle Scout. I have seen first hand how the Scouting program turns boys into fine young responsible adults. The skills that are learned from Scouts can’t been learned anywhere else. CONGRATS BOYS!!!!

  14. Jim C – Council Religious Emblems Coordinator
    I am a Scouter and I am amazed about this story. Not the part about what the Scouts did. That part doesn’t amaze me at all. They did exactly what they were trained to do. What amazes me is the timeline here. This story is breaking now May 9, 2014. But it happened April 5, 2014! That’s five weeks ago! The reason we are now reading about it is that it hit Scouting Magazine and all the other outlets are picking up on it. Why wasn’t this story broke by NBC immediately after Ann Curry had her break? It’s almost as if there is a cover up here. Can you say liberal media? It seems that Scouting typically only makes headlines when they espouse their beliefs of family values and wholesomeness, something the liberals like to attack. Ann and also Brian Williams should have made an announcement about this story in a timely manner. While I’m sure that Ann is thankful to be safely rescued and treated, she should also be so thankful that she was found by Boy Scouts and not an unsavory element who may have taken advantage of her in her injured state. I commend Scouter Rick Jurgens, the professional firefighter and EMT who accompanied the Scouts. Being an EMT, he could have done the whole procedure from start to finish, but didn’t. He purposefully held back. He knew that his Scouts were trained and he let their training take over. Being the good trainer that he is, he checked their work. Way to go, Rick and a job very well done by the Scouts of Troop 368.

    • I think “liberal media” says it all. As I wrote above, had one of the Scouts involved been admitted under new membership guidelines, we would have heard about this immediately and it would still be rocketing through the blogosphere.

      • There are 2 ways to make yourself feel more significant. One is to better yourself, accomplish goals and move ahead. The other is to try to bring others down to your level, and try to make them feel as insignificant as you feel. It’s obvious you chose the latter.

      • Peter, you could donate to the Boy Scouts by googling Boy Scouts of America for the address to that particular chapter. that way, it will go directly to them, and not a general fund for the BSA. Or maybe check the phonebook for a local chapter, who can also get you that info.
        good luck and a great idea that you suggested.

      • Steven, grow up or better yet, join the BSA to learn how to care about helping people; it could really make u a better human being. get over yourself and be something productive, not just a whiner…..

  15. I wonder what a handwriting analyst would make of her signature. And yes, that is my takeaway. I don’t jump on bandwagons.

  16. I have two Eagle Scout sons. Forget the bs and controvery surrounding the administration. Boys that choose to continue on in the scouts have years of training in dealing with these situations. So proud to be a mom of two Eagle Scouts. Ann Curry was very lucky to have been taken care of so early in her injury.

    • Donna, I also have two sons that are Eagle Scouts and feel exactly the same way. They aren’t concerned with the attention BSA has recently garnered. They just want to do the things that Scouts do.

      Great job, T368!

  17. I’m sorry that Ms. Curry was hurt, but she now knows a small part of what makes The Boy Scouts a great organization. With all of the negative stuff that has been said about Boy Scouting it’s great to hear something positive by someone who’s not in Scouting. Great Job Troop 368, have fun in Philmont my two daughters (one in Exploring the other in Venturing) went their Crew and had a great time.

  18. From an aged Eagle Scout Way to go scouts ! this is a prime example of putting the skills that we work so hard to perfect to use. Great job! Keep up the good work

  19. Well done Scouts! As our motto tell’s us, “Be Prepared”…and you are! Good job and best of luck, wherever your future in Scouting takes you! (Ralph E. Costanzo III, former Life Scout, Troop G1, Stamford CT.)

  20. From only a former Scout First Class in the San Fernando Valley Council, way to go, this is what’s meant by Be Prepared. Bravo.

  21. hey who wouldn’t help a pretty damsel in distress! 🙂
    makes me proud to have been a scout even if it was 55 years ago!

  22. I am so glad that BSA is still able to help our youth develop lifelong skills and talents that they will use. Bravo! And again, Bravo Troop 368!

  23. I had the opportunity to speak to Ann Curry once and she is a genuinely nice person. As an Eagle Scout and former Assistant Scoutmaster I am pleased that members of Troop 368 helped her in a time of need. Although I’m not surprised by their actions. While I believe most people would want to help another, Boy Scouts are trained and prepared to know what to do. Great job boys!

  24. Thats what Scouting is all about. This reminds me of my days in Scouting with my friends, the valuable life lessons that we learned, and how Scouting prepared us situations like this. Whether its aiding an injured famous news correspondent on a trail, helping an elderly person cross the street, or a myriad of types of service projects, Scouts quietly serve our communities nationwide. Way to go guys!

  25. Good job Troop 368 from New Jersey for be prepared and willing to help…from a proud Eagle Scout mom in OH!

  26. Great going Troop 368!!
    This is what scouting is all about.
    I have shared your inspirational story with our Pack 18 and other scouts in West Los Angeles. Keep up the great work.

    Jerry Wiener
    Cub Master Pack 18

  27. This goes to show the world what great people we have and how blessed we are. It is so sad that nbc (that is on purpose) did not know that they had a diamond as a co anchor. Let ML check his ratings now.
    Back to our SCOUTS Stay the same GREAT MEN YOU ARE BECOMING. WE NEED YOU. PRAYING LISTENING WATCHING ALABAMA PROUD

  28. The Scout Motto says “Be Prepared” and that means in mind, body and spirit. That is what Scouting teaches, what young men learn but application comes when the “Scout” is tested in real life. The result? Prepared For Life! Goooo Scouts! Job well done!

  29. That is a great story, and as the saying goes, they are trained for that. Ann Curry is a wonderful person, and NBC lost a terrific journalist!

  30. I spent over ten years in scouting. You Scouts have help me think that time was not wasted. it’s the same idleals that we had back in the 1960’s and all the way back to when Baden Powle started the Scouts. I am almost 70 and just as prouded today as i was back then.
    Thank about it guys I am 70

  31. I wish that I could personally thank a group of Boy Scouts that came to my rescue when I broke my ankle in the parking lot of a Motel 6 in Carlisle PA on July 7, 2013. It was dark and the boys were swimming in the pool when they heard me screaming for help. They immediately came to my assistance and their wonderful leader took charge of the situation. She called 911 and the boys got ice to help the swelling. They held my hand and helped keep me and my son (who has autism) calm and comforted until the ambulance arrived. It was a compound fracture and my ankle was also dislocated so it was not a pleasant site, but I didn’t even realize how bad it was because not a single Scout reacted. They were more mature and professional than many adults would have been. Unfortunately, I never got their troop (or troops) number. All I know is that they were from California and were in the area to attend a Jamboree. If anyone can help me identify these scouts, I would greatly appreciate it. It’s been almost a year and I am fully healed, but I still think about the kindness of these boys and their leader and I would like to thank them.

    • Michelle Guerra-
      Based on the date and location, it is quite possible they were in attendance at the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. There were a number of scout troops in attendance that week.

    • The great thing about scouts is that they are not in it to hear “thank you”, just to use the life skills they learn in scouting to help those who find themselves in need. I’m glad you’ve fully recovered from your ordeal.

  32. BZ to Troop 368! Rush Limbaugh did a segment on this story on his Monday afternoon show and ended with the statement that the “Southern Poverty Law Center” has branded us as bigots and homophobes because we don’t have Gay and Lesbian Leaders. Rush stated that as he looked at these 8 young scouts he did not see anything other some great youth that we all can be proud to know. My question is could someone check to see if Miss Curry has ever written about the Scouting movement. It would be interesting to know her views prior to this contact.

    • Not sure what this has to do with the political mud-slinging du jour. From where I sit, if anyone was actually successful in applying the former membership standard to gay youth, the end result would have been fewer boys on the trail with the skills needed to help in emergencies.

      And with all due respect to the many parents who are concerned about the example of conduct being set before our boys, we have to remind ourselves that the tradeoff is we may be depriving certain units of the leader best suited to teach their boys what it takes to manage rescue situations like this.

    • OK! So 13 of you gave my note a thumbs down. All I was asking was just what was Ms.Curry’s “estimate” of the Boy Scouts of America prior to this? She told them “to keep going” when they tried to help. My point is that she probably has never had any contact with Scouts, hence the “underestimate” of our skills and the wiliness to help.

  33. The Scouts are still around and as strong as ever, People this is the time to act and get your son’s into Scouting and let them experience the adventures that Scouts take part in,

  34. Let’s see… 3 life Scouts, at least 3 Star Scouts, a 2nd Class Scout and a
    either (Star or 1st Class) Scout, all but the 2nd Class Scout likely have the
    First Aid MB. Well trained and ready. A job well done.

    From a 1961 Silver Award Air Explorer.

  35. Why did it take over a month for an enlightning story like this to be released? If anyone were to offer such aid to me as these Scouts did for Ms. Curry I would have reported their actions on my way to the hospital. Maybe in typical liberal fashion, she was reluctant to expose good news about an organization which her left-leaning cronies despise?

  36. I have hiked that trail at least 50 times as a kid and leader, it was my troops favorite place to go. We even build a campsite off the trail and used it almost every month year round. Next to a beaver dam and stream for fresh water. The NY Forest Rangers kept an eye on it for us and sometimes had some jobs for us to do such as some other trail repair. It was a good trade. Late 1950’s – 1960’s. Troop 529, Manhattan.

    On one trip a new scout hit him self in the head with a hatchet and was out and bleeding pretty bad. We also had to build a stretcher and carry him down the mountain. That mountain is not easy to go down with someone on a stretcher. My hat is off the that group of scouts.

  37. I just read the Ann Curry story. I have hiked that trail at least 50 times as a kid and leader, it was my troops favorite place to go. We even build a campsite off the trail and used it almost every month year round. Next to a beaver dam and stream for fresh water. The NY Forest Rangers kept an eye on it for us and sometimes had some jobs for us to do such as some other trail repair. It was a good trade. Late 1950’s – 1960’s. Troop 529, Manhattan

    On one trip a new scout hit him self in the head with a hatchet and was out and bleeding pretty bad. We also had to build a stretcher and carry him down the mountain. That mountain is not easy to go down with someone on a stretcher. My hat is off the that group of scouts.

  38. Hello from Beverly Hills, California…. I was astonished on how skillful and creative these scouts were to save Ms. Curry. I used to be a Boy Scout back in 1980s and I am very proud of you guys…

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