Wilderness Emergency Preparedness/Communications/Training part 2
Amick Robert (amick@SPOT.COLORADO.EDU)
Tue, 11 Jun 1996 12:52:46 -0600
(Part 2, continued from previous post)
ADDITIONAL FAILSAFE RESOURCES AND EQUIPMENT
Always plan to have "spare" or additional resources that you hold only for
emergencies. This includes additional drinking water, water purification
filters; emergency high energy freeze-dried food rations, gatorade
electrolyte drink mix packets for dehyrdation treatment; a "survival"
kit with "space blankets"; spare flashlights,
batteries, bulbs; a "survival" strobe beacon for aircraft/night location
identification; "high visibility" yellow-green flourescent/reflective
nylon fabric cycling jackets/parkas; cyalume 12 hour emergency lightsticks
and police whistles for each member. Other items can be added to suit
individual preferences. If you are going on a river trip, or even on
backpacks when it rains, be sure to
package your first aid and survival gear in waterproof containers or kits.
Nothing is worse than "soggy" bandaids and pills when you need them.
Ziplock bags help a lot for these items as well, and are good "organizers"
for first aid and survival kits. Redundancy is again important. Have
small kits spread out among the group, and be sure each participant has a
personal first aid/medical kit for his/her own needs. If the person who
is "lost" has the only first aid kit, the rest of the group is big
NATURAL HAZARDS AWARENESS
The Red Cross teaches a new course called "Community Disaster Education."
The course deals with natural hazards such as lightning, flash flooding,
tornadoes, avalanche, hazardous materials emergencies, severe storms,
hurricanes, etc., and provides excellent video tapes and brochures on how
to avoid such hazards or to mitigate their effects. This information can
be very useful on outdoor trips. It is interesting to note that flash
floods are the leading cause of death in natural hazards, followed closely
by lightning fatalities. Good videotapes and publications on these topics
can go a long way in enhancing awareness and prevention.
Outdoor survival courses such as Papa Bear Whitmore's course stress the
vital need for "mental toughness" to acknowledge quickly that a critical
situation has arisen, and to immediately begin countermeasures. Research
has shown that most victims of wilderness emergencies often perish because
they do not acknowledge the apparent and immediate risks, and fail to
prepare for them early in the process when they are still mentally alert,
well hydrated, and physically capable to responding. An attitude of
"fierce will to live" must be instilled in every participant. All of the
resources discussed above will do absolutely no good if the individual
does not have the determination to assess the situation and respond
appropriately and effectively in the face of very adverse circumstances.
Interestingly, studies in disasters have shown that people have a great
capacity to respond and render assistance, but often lack the skills and
knowledge to do so effectively. Much of what Scouting teaches is
self-reliance and leadership skills to use resources effectively; there
is no better place to put those skills to use than in emergent
Again, simulations of potential real-life scenarios such as a "lost
Scout" on a shakedown are excellent ways to test response plans and to
give Scouts and Leaders confidence in dealing with the real situation
should it occur. Positive reflection sessions after the exercises
contribute greatly to reinforcing those responses and skills for the
It is recommended that Scouts and Scouters who plan to be involved in
wilderness experiences avail themselves of as much training and
experiential education as possible before the fact.
Unfortunately, this is presently
one of the weaker areas of leadership training in Scouting in many areas.
Much attention should be given by District or Council risk management and
health and safety committees to greatly improve the leadership skills and
resource availability in the topics discussed above.
It would be most interesting to have additional input and discussion on
these topics from others who are similarly experienced. Once again to
paraphrase a quote from another post "plan for the worst and expect the
best and you will not be disappointed."
Bob Amick, EMT-B, Explorer Advisor, High Adventure Explorer Post 72,
Boulder, CO, and Longs Peak Council Exploring Training Chair
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City