scouts-l Mail Archive for November of 1999: Re: How safe is Philmont?
Jack & John Wright (jwright@CHATTANOOGA.NET
Sun Nov 07 1999 - 16:50:07 CST
I know of 1 fatality at Philmont last June, a boy died of a severe
asthma attack on the last day of a trek. I understand his father and a
brother were with him. I would wonder if readily available radio commo
and timely medevac could have saved him. The doctors in our troop say
asthma is not fatal with normal commo and transportation, especially to
a young person. "Normal" means cell-phone and ambulance in urban areas,
or radio and air medevac in backcountry. Smoke signals just won't get
My son went on a Philmont trek last summer, but I'm not sure I'll let
him go again, after hearing about the prohibition on all "radios". Our
SM and 2 of the boys on that trek were Ham radio licensees, and they
always carry their small talkies for safety commo while hiking and
camping here in TN. We can't get out of range of some ham repeater, and
we can get just as far from help as you can at Philmont. But they can't
take 'em to Philmont. I can well understand prohibitions against
cell-phones, CD players, and "radio receivers", to keep the teenage
"noise" down. But if I went to Philmont, I'd have to leave if they
tried to separate me from my (safety pourpose) ham tranceiver, (which
I'd be glad to certify would only be turned on for an emergency).
I'll wager that radio range is the same at Philmont, they said the
rangers carry radios, but rangers are only with each trek group a few
days. How hard would it be to issue each trek group a talkie, charged
battery, & antenna, sealed into a good zip-lok bag & require them to
carry it, only to be used in an emergency? $$ Cost? Bet they could get
'em donated. I'd hate to see my son die of anything when he might have
been saved by ready availability of a radio or air medevac.
So currently, if there's a slip, fall, or serious head injury on a
trail, the boys may have 5 or 10 miles of trail to run to get help, then
that help has to go to the scene of the injury, etc. etc. That likely
wouldn't get you to a hosp. within the "golden hour" that you should get
with air medevac on any interstate. Surely Philmont could provide
enough backcountry landing zones. I'd like to know if they've ever used
or communicated with the local medevac?
There's no doubt that Philmont is legendary as a wonderful place that
makes men out of boys every week. My son loved it. Their defense could
be that most people come there to get away from all that radio, TV,
telephone, and 'copter activity, but do we want to die because of lack
of it? I'd like to get these questions answered too.
Bill, you decide whether you want to show this message to your concerned
parents. I'd commend them for their safety attitudes. Maybe your
inquiries of Philmont might even make a difference, and help make that
legendary experience safer.
Jack Wright, email@example.com