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We NEVER should need to do this, But...

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In a recent discussion, it was mentioned that a troop has a policy of how to handle a horrible tragedy striking the troop, with a Scout/Scouter dying on a trip.


Do other troops or national have policies on this? It is something we NEVER want to think about, but it has happened before, and will happen again.





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There is a national procedure for this, which I became familiar with a few years ago (a scout died at the camp I was working at) and again Camp School and my time as health officer. I'm not sure if this only applies to distric/council/national events or to troop events as well.


IThe procedure and paperwork is found in the 'pink folder,' formally known as a Report of Serious Injury or Fatality (or something like that). This is used for anyone who requires a hospital stay greater than 12 hours or the death of a Scout or Leader. The procedure is to notify the Scout Executive immediately after seeking medical care. It is his or her job to inform the family (in person). From there, a report has to be filled out, and the insurance company notified. These things will probably be done by the District/Council Executive, but the leaders present will probably be interviewed and possibly asked to write his or her own description of the incident. In short, all that the leaders need to do is find medical care and notify the council.


If it were my troop, I would recommend that one of leaders who knows the parents well notify them, if the hospital hasn't done this already. It would probably be best to coordinate this with the physician and/or council rep/camp director (if at a council event). If the parents are going to the hospital, I would wait until they arrived and then tell them. I would also recommend that each leader write down his or her

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OK, buts a saturday afternoon, Council Office is closed. How doe you contact them?


While no one likes to talk about it, if your going to take youth on High adventure, or even any trips, you need a procedure in place. After something happens is not the time to fumble the ball


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Prior preparation prevents poor performance.


Someone once said that they loved acting because the other person generally knew what they were supposed to do and when. Scouting is not acting but the same type of preparation applies. People are generally on the same page because to do otherwise will not only ruin the show but will make problems that won't go away.


Make sure that you have two-deep leadership, at the very least two. You never want to be doing Scouting alone for many different reasons and this is one of the biggest.


Make sure that you have filed your camping/tour permit and that you have planned according to the Safe Swim Defense and Safety Afloat.


Make sure that you know the area, hospitals, towns and emergency numbers.


Make sure that you have your book of cell phone numbers, telephone numbers, and priority people to contact, including the D.E. and the S.E. (*unless the S.E. states otherwise and then there will be an alternative given)


Your Committee Chairman should also be on your list because you need somebody that is not directly involved to make the important calls for you. Important people are not in the office on Saturdays but they know and understand emergencies and you will get access when necessary. You can also be sure that once you make contact with that CC that contact will be made to the right people and they will appear. The CC will most likely not only make the call but go to the D.E. and pick him/her up and bring them.


When you contact the emergency people they need to know who should be notified in your organization. They are also there to help and they are generally the best at communicating.


You should have a Troop contact person for getting the word out to parents when there is an emergency and plans have changed. Parents may not be willing to help on a regular basis but they will be there when there is an emergency.


Remember, that if you require that you will only work within a group then the group is responsible to help. Let them help in the small things and when it comes to doing the big things, THEY will get it done.


I hope that this stuff is something that everyone is already doing.



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In our GSUSA local council we have a well-publicized crisis communication plan that is to be put into play anytime police, EMS or media are involved. The main step is putting in a pager call to whichever staff person is on call - they take turns so that the pager is answered 24/7.

Do BSA councils have a similar procedure in place? I did not receive any training about such a plan back when I was a BSA volunteer.

Anne in Mpls

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My understanding of the notification policies, based on my past work on camp staffs and at a national high adventure base, is that it is mainly to make sure that the right person in the professional (read "paid") staff makes any phone calls on behalf of the BSA - it isn't meant to prevent the Scoutmaster from calling a lads parents or a leaders spouse (parents, etc.) to inform them of an incident. It is to prevent the Camp Director, or Health Officer, or Waterfront Director, or even the District Executive from making that call - In an incident, the council needs to speak with one voice, and the Scout Executive is given loss/risk prevention training in how to make such a call - it isn't about being polite, its about minimizing liability exposure. I know that sounds cynical but from a liability standpoint, nothing would be worse than someone saying something in an offhanded way that could lead to liability exposure - for a hypothetical instance, a boy gets tangled up in some underwater plant growth and a waterfron director telling the parents they warned the kids about the area but that maybe they could have done more by posting signs or pulling the weeds. Such a statement is just an invitation to a negligence lawsuit.


As Scoutmaster, you aren't forbidden from informing the parents (etc.) and frankly I would imagine most parents/spouses would be really hacked off at you if you didn't tell them yourself. I can pretty much guarantee that the emergency authorities (hospital, police, etc.) aren't going to wait for the Scout Executive to contact the parents. The best thing, though, is not to get into any details on such a phone call, and make sure you do call the Scout Executive because he will have to get the insurance paperwork ball rolling - it will also give you a great barrier between you and the press - if they ask for details, you can just tell them that they have to call the Scout Executive for any statements. But, bottomline, if you as a Scoutmaster or leader of your unit faces this situation, you need to be prepared to make what will be one of the most difficult calls you'll ever make in your life.



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Calico and others have some great thoughts on this, eh? But most of what is being said pertains to council or district events (like summer camp).


The Arkansas trip where the boy drowned is a unit activity, where rather than falling on the council, the primary liability and obligation falls on the Chartered Org. and volunteer. Da BSA pros may be there to help, but each unit should have its emergency plan in place that the CO signed off on. Bigger CO's will already have mechanisms for this that a troop needs to be aware of. The pastor, the school board, the VFW president, their legal counsel, and their insurer all need to be brought into the loop.


How each troop should handle it depends on their setup, eh? But you want the procedure in the little red emergencies book; ya don't want to be makin' it up on the fly.


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