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Nightline - Boy Scout Tragedy (FL Everglades hike)

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Yah, I feel for the family and the scout leaders.

 

As nld says, a complaint is just a complaint, eh? Yeh have to put in everything yeh can, and make the best case (not the most complete/accurate case) that yeh can. Then the defendant responds and yeh have a trial to determine whether any of the complaint has merit. I would think most of da complaint would be easy to respond to; still, for this kind of action yeh would want to settle rather than try it.

 

Loosely speakin', when an attorney goes to try something in the media like this fellow is, he's hopin' for a big settlement. Probably a bigger settlement than the base facts would support. It isn't the BSA and the defendant scouters who called Nightline, eh? It'd be interestin' to know what the demand is. That portends an extended round of settlement negotiations.

 

BadenP, this is what insurance is for, eh? There's no reason to believe that the church or the scouters will be hurt financially, or that the scouters will lose their membership.

 

As to the facts of the case, a 20 mile hike on flat land in 92 degree humid weather does not seem unreasonable to me. The boy in question had over a gallon of water with him, on top of whatever he had beforehand or refilled along the way. Da real issue would seem to be the boy's poor personal fitness. Young, badly overweight lads do have a hard time regulating temperature, and the difficulty they're havin' can surprise a reasonably fit adult who is personally feeling OK. It would take some degree of real first aid experience, not just training, to pick up on da problem, especially if the lad was trying to "tough it out" as most do.

 

I was also struck by the poor care for the family after the accident, as TwoCubDad was. I know Irving doesn't agree with me, but I think yeh send the SE and the IH of the chartered org. out to do the death notice, or at least to do immediate follow-up. Yeh care for the family first. Yah, yah, legal fellows will always advise not to talk to the family because anything yeh say might be used against yeh, but I think that's balderdash. People have a much harder time suing folks who have been human and compassionate, who have sat and cried with them. It's da ones who hide that get people's ire up, as in this case. Besides, our values should come first, not our legal strategy.

 

There's probably nothing the BSA could have done to avoid the editing job Nightline did to their responses. Just the nature of the game. I think they could have been better advised. Certainly somebody could have done a better job of prepping Richard. Again, yeh get trapped because da legal team doesn't want yeh to say anything that might affect the case, but that makes yeh sound dense and evasive. It's another case where the best legal advice is not the best PR and communications advice, and in this case the PR and communications side should have won out. Still, given da nature of the piece as a hatchet job, I think they did as well as can be reasonably be expected.

 

The BSA does have an interestin' challenge that someone pointed out. If the standard of care we're being held to is that of other professional organizations and guide services that take kids into the woods, that's a standard that most of our volunteers are not likely to be able to meet. Yep, an experienced professional would have recognized heat stroke earlier and been quicker on the draw in terms of gettin' help, but that's not somethin' I would expect of a first-aid trained volunteer. The volunteer isn't goin' to associate stumbling with brain trauma, they're goin' to associate it with fatigue. They're goin' to associate vomiting with stomach illness not heat stress, and they're not goin' to expect symptoms to worsen while the lad isn't moving. Heck, that's stuff some pros would miss unless they'd seen it a few times.

 

So da plaintiffs are lucky I'm not on the jury, eh? Because I wouldn't see this as negligent given the volunteer's level of experience and training, and I don't think it's negligent to let volunteers lead hikes if the parents choose to do that rather than pay for professionals.

 

Beavah

 

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Beavah hit the target with that response, IMHO.

 

The most fundamental thing is that the leadership should have responded with compassion rather than legality.

 

One thing that no one brought up is that First Aid for heatstroke is a Second Class Rank requirement. All the scouts on that trip should have been watching out for heat stroke, and known how to treat it.

 

 

NLDscout: In terms of temperature, the actual temperature seems to be 92 from various reports. The heat index was 100. (IMHO, the attorneys for the Scout should be reprimanded for mistating that, but I'm a stickler for facts).

 

 

 

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"Besides, our values should come first, not our legal strategy. "

 

That probably the single most brilliant thing I've ever heard on this site.

 

but this one ...

 

...I don't think it's negligent to let volunteers lead hikes if the parents choose to do that rather than pay for professionals."

 

Ah, but we parents *do* pay for professionals...we pay the professionals at BSA via our annual payments. And we parents expect that the adults *are* trained to the level that is necessary to handle *any* situation that arises.

 

The symptoms, in the order in which they presented themselves were a direct pointer to heatstroke in that circumstance, if all the youths in the group failed to see it, then strip off the MB and make them take it again. However the adults are expected (by the parents) to be trained and correctly identify the problem. Further, if this boy is so tremendously out of shape, then the adult leaders should have refused to take him.

 

The fact that will probably win this case for the parents is the failure to get assistance for over an hour. I am personally certain that this issue alone cost that boy his life, it almost defies rational thought to me.

 

Does this directly impact Scouting? Of course it does...to some degree. Every case like this impacts the cost of the insurance by BSA, which effects the cost to the Scouts. It impacts BSA's to ability to get CO's since they have to consider the impact on their liabilities.

 

 

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The thing here is, we don't know what really happened. We don't know why they waited so long, it could have been that the kids were sitting in the shade drinking, the leaders thinking they were just hot, and needed an extended rest. Then he crashed, who knows.

 

What I do know is the complaint looks like a typical civil complaint, we haven't seen the answer, which is the next step. Then there will be discovery, and depositions and conferences, and more conferences. Then the negotiations will start, and more negotiations. Then if they don't reach an agreement, they will start with written motions to the court. Motions to dismiss, motions for discovery, motions for records, motions for this and that.

 

Then sometime in 2 or 3 years, maybe they will have a trial, doubtful, but its possible.

 

I would not hold my breath to see what happens, cause its gonna take a long time.

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Ah, but we parents *do* pay for professionals...we pay the professionals at BSA via our annual payments. And we parents expect that the adults *are* trained to the level that is necessary to handle *any* situation that arises.

 

If yeh really think that your $15 recharter fee earns yeh the services of a hands-on professional outdoor educator for a full year then you're out of your mind.

 

If yeh want a professionally run outdoor experience, go contract with Outward Bound. It'll cost yeh $1500 or more per week, not includin' transportation. And they won't come to your neighborhood, you have to fly to them; nor will they teach your son how to plan his own trips, or focus on character, or give him access to folks to let him investigate careers, or... You will get a WFR-trained guide with a good amount of outdoor experience and a strong organization behind him or her. But odds are they'll also be young and might not have the life experience to recognize the special needs of an overweight teen or da various different sorts of presentation of heat stroke.

 

Nobody anywhere, even the pros, is trained to handle any possible situation that arises. Outward Bound has fatalities too, eh? Public school sports and field trips have fatalities too. Scouting's safety record is truly exceptional for an all-volunteer outfit of its size and scope. I think the BSA reps on the show should have been more up-front and honest. Outings have risks we can't control. We do what we can, but when we're hit by one of those risks, then we also train people to respond. And even when we do that, there are no guarantees that a response to a complex situation is goin' to be successful. Those are just the risks of life.

 

The facts of da case are tough, eh? Without an autopsy, we can't even be sure this was heat stroke as opposed to some other ailment. The delay in callin' for help is easy to second guess after the fact, but hard in da situation. Yeh have a tired, sweating teen who is resting. You feel fine. The other kids are fine except for givin' their water to the tired fellow. Based on that, you're goin' to call for a $15K helicopter evac? When the lad vomits, now a really sharp medically trained person might connect it to brain trauma and heat stroke and make the call for help, even though he's been resting and being treated. That's not really covered at all in any standard first aid course, though. But da helicopter evac time was over an hour, and the lad was in full arrest in 20 minutes, so callin' at that point wouldn't have mattered.

 

To my mind, the prevention point was probably the boy's fitness level. I assume this was the 20 mile hike for Hiking MB. I wonder what his prep hikes looked like.

 

Beavah

 

 

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Beav

You hit the nail on the head, without an autopsy being performed, which apparently it is not, there is no way to conclusively prove the cause of death and the parents claims are for the most part speculation with no evidence for support. The time delay before the call for help becomes the only possible evidence of negligence.

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Yessir, Beavah nailed it again IMHO. I've had heat stroke. I've also had lots of first aid training. I earned FAMB as a youth and led my patrol to a first place in our district FA Contest. Trained medical folks make mistakes too.

 

When i had my heat stroke one of my co-workers was a Paramedic. He and I had just spent the entire morning in a service pickup in 70ish temps. After lunch when my symptoms presented it was far worse than even he thought. Had my wife drive me to a clinic that was an hour away where they gave me several liters of saline only to release me. On the way out to the car I started vomiting again. I then was taken to the local hospital for over night care and watching. Yeah you could say that several trained medical people under estimated the severity of a heat related illness that day. To this day I have a long term issue that simply persists that I think is caused by my heat illness.

 

You can believe that I pay close attention to hydration of myself and those around me. You can believe that I know the symptoms of heat illness since that day however they also are common with other illnesses or conditions.

 

I'm willing to give the SM and his ASM the benefit of doubt based on what I've read and heard concerning this tragic loss. It is possible that it took an hour for a cell phone to find a signal; mine sure drops coverage for no good reason.

 

Richard B. sure was poorly presented in the video, could just be crafty editing. Sadly we need someone doing what Richard does for us. Sadly He and those doing the same thing in industry just seem to think differently than I do.

 

Seems like the first thing you are supposed to do to avoid heat illness beyond proper hydration is acclimate your self to it. I would guess that the deceased was such at the time of his death. Without autopsy his cause of death I doubt could be established as more likely than not to be heatstroke due to negligence. Sadly the reality of this is the likely least costly option is a settlement.

 

Sadly the outcome of this will cost us all more money. More training might even become required. The training we have now that is needed to be considered trained is not enough IMHO to with any certainty know that all leaders will recognize and correctly diagnose heat illness each and every time it happens. I think it is fair to trust that others will have and keep the welfare, health, and safety of the boys in their thoughts and do the best their training allows.

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"If yeh really think that your $15 recharter fee earns yeh the services of a hands-on professional outdoor educator for a full year then you're out of your mind."

 

No...my $15 (if that is what it is...I'm certain it's more than than here) earns me professional training of the adult leaders. Not some book, or web video. And if that isn't enough... make it $150!

 

A small price to pay for eliminating fatalities due to stupidity. And that is what this was... 10 levels of stupidity.

 

 

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Eng,

 

Is $150 how much sports are in your neck of the woods? I know that my dad-in-law pays $82/month ($984/ year) for 8 karate lessons per month. Tournaments, seminars, shows, and extra training to prepare for tournaments and shows are additional fees. It is quite expensive, and if my dad-in-law wasn't paying for it, my son would not be doing it.

 

Lots of kids in my neck of the woods can't afford the $60 fee we charge as a pack and receive aid from the COR.

 

There has to be a balance.

 

As for safety, as others have posted there have been fatalities in youth sports. I wouldn't mind looking at current safety figures compared to sports as a whole, as well as other outdoor recreation organizations. I know that when I did research on this topic in the late 90s, BSA had a better safety record that other outdoor organizations in both per capital and/or overall incidents.

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Look at other threads here where the volunteers are griping over the manditory training imposed on them. Training which is a pin prick compared to the training you are asking we require of each and every volunteer that goes on an outing with the boys..

 

Now if you made it a paid job.. Or even paid them for the hours in class to get the training, you would probably have the volunteers willing to go. (Yearly for refresher courses and new/changed procedures)..

 

But, you would need to pay for that.. Prices like the others quoted. Otherwise, you need to except there is only so much you can ask a volunteer to spend time doing, in order to be a volunteer, without having your volunteer pool dry up..

 

As others have said their is a fine line balance that needs to be maintained.

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I'd like to ask a few more questions about this.

In the overall story it alleges 6 Boy Scout related youth deaths since the 1990's - Out of how many cumulative Boy Scouts during the same period? And then what is the standard U.S. mortality rate at that age group?

 

In the overall story it alleges 6 Boy Scout related youth deaths since the 1990's - and then lists three one during a Grand Canyon hike, one on the Water and one from a lightning strike.

If expert knowledge is assumed to be required for a hike, then doesn't it follow that some higher than usual level of risk is also involved?

Any water activity carries risk, if we assume guidelines were followed, I'm sorry but water activity carries risk - you get laid out unconscious for any reason and we don't do a good job of breathing the stuff.

Lightning - the reason we do lightning drills is because we are outdoors - if you happen to be crossing a bald when lightning moves into your strike zone - you have two choices, move on which is against policy and execute the lightning drill which while it minimizes your risk - you ARE still exposed.

 

The parents in the video state that their child was "fit" but Blancmange states he was 5'6" and 210, unless he was also an athlete carrying a lot of muscle, I question calling him fit.

 

The complaint, throwing everything including the sink at the question, states the Scouters didn't have adequate training. From what I can gather, these were not first year Scouters, what training DID they have, but, just as importantly what training would the prosecution suggest?

 

I am not familiar with this trail, but have done my share of Military foot movement in the heat of Florida. Was there an opportunity to "bail" off of this trail? Could they have turned back at the 10 mile point and been closer to help? Were there other "bail-out points" that would have helped them, realizing they still would have had to moved to them?Or was pressing on the only non-helicopter choice?

 

How much water did the group have on them? How much did this youth have un-consumed before he went down.

Were they taking water breaks and was consumption mandatory and observed at the breaks? Were they conserving water due to an inability (real or perceived)to resupply along the trail?

 

Bottom lines is that given who he was and where he was, and what he was doing and not only the Adult Leaders but the youth's own experience and supposed knowledge level(he was only his project away from Eagle) he may have been "as safe as possible".

 

Regrettable but not necessarily preventable.

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Recharter fee is the same nationwide, eh? $15 per kid for the year. Plus $1 if your council or troop does the limited accident insurance thing.

 

If yeh want "professional", as in paid staff hired for experience and trained to industry norms with protocols in place, then it's not $150 eh? It's $1500 per week. Call it $250 per day. So annual dues for a troop that goes campin' 10 weekends plus summer camp would be $6500, plus transportation. Then add another $500 or $1000 for meetings.

 

Why so much? Yeh need to pay people to take off time to take and maintain EMT-W certification. The latter is at least a month of training and many thousands of dollars per person in training costs, plus CE time to maintain it. Then yeh have to add on outdoors training. A basic NOLS Outdoor Educator's course will cost yeh another $4K plus another month of time. Then if yeh want to add sport-specific training like ACA swiftwater instructor/guide/rescue or a NOLS rock climbing and rock climbing instructor course, add in another couple of months and another 8 grand.

 

That just gets yeh training, eh? If yeh actually want experience both in the outdoors and working with kids, then yeh have to pay enough to recruit it from a relatively small pool. And even so, you're probably goin' to get some pretty young folks who are still forming their judgment skills. Then yeh have to add in BSA program training and review.

 

And like I said, even da best of the professionals have accidents and fatalities. NOLS has had a few fatalities over da years, and they run only a fraction of the number of client-days in the woods that the BSA does, with a much older clientele.

 

The Florida case is tragic. I think our institutional response to the family and to the media was flawed. But I've seen experienced professionals miss da diagnosis on heat illness in similar conditions, and we're not even sure if this was heat illness or some other underlyin' condition brought on by the exertion. Without all the information, I'm not seein' "stupid".

 

What I do see is about a million very capable volunteers doin' their best to offer a fine, safe, wonderful program at less than cost. But if yeh don't like it, da professional guide services are there for yeh for only $10K a year if yeh can generate enough volume of interest. At least at those rates I'd expect attendance and commitment would be higher than we see in Scouting. ;)

 

Beavah

 

 

 

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Not related to the current conversation, but --

 

Did I read correctly that there were five on the hike? Two leaders and three boys? Anyone want to bet the other two boys were the sons of the leaders? Does anyone think these guys didn't take every precaution for this Scout the did for their own sons?

 

Of course, those of us who are Scouters know we would -- and routinely do -- apply the same level of care and responsibility to all the boys in our care regardless. But, still.....

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"No...my $15 (if that is what it is...I'm certain it's more than than here) earns me professional training of the adult leaders. Not some book, or web video. And if that isn't enough... make it $150!

 

A small price to pay for eliminating fatalities due to stupidity. And that is what this was... 10 levels of stupidity."

 

BSA is a volunteer program. The adults who lead troops are somebodys Dad who agreed to help. They agreed to spend $100 for uniform and spend about 2 days in a classroom learning the basics of how the program is designed and about 2 days on an overnight campout to be exposed to the basics of the program. They are not a paid staff of EMTs and Wilderness Survival Experts. There is no first aid or survival training at all.

 

"10 levels of stupidity" are parents not involved in the program presuming that for $15 for national dues and usually about $75 of troop dues they are buying a paid professional outdoorsman with the skills of a military special forces medic and survial expert.

 

Troops range from a dad and his fishing buddy taking a dozen kids on a weekend campout to troops with gear and training to rival NOLS or similar programs. Hopefully the lesser trained and skilled are looking for additionl training outside of scouting, or are taking less adventurous trips.

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resqman - I'm hurt. You don't remember your 1 to 2 hour First Aid course during the IOLS course training? In that time you were introduced to all the first Aid from tenderfoot - 1st Class.. Ta! Da! and a new Doctor is born

 

Seriously as others have mentioned, being able to rattle off the list is one thing, event doing simulation where someone pretends is one thing.. The real life situation, where the patient does not show all the symptoms, does not complain right away, can not describe perfectly what he is feeling.. The lists and the simulation is no real defense, for the real thing.

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