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Nightline - Boy Scout Tragedy (FL Everglades hike)

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The BSA doesn't use professionals to train volunteers. It uses experienced volunteers to train volunteers. You hope that the guy you have teaching first aid in IOLS is an EMT or Paramedic or emergency room Doctor/Nurse (please note the qualifier). She/He will still be volunteering but still be a professional. But there is still a good chance the person will just be an experienced volunteer.

 

Want someone other than an experienced volunteer to train folks in outdoor skills? You can hope to get someone like me on your course who has volunteered (I have a degree in Environmental Education with an emphasis on Outdoor Recreation - most would consider that a professional designation). Or you can pay me or one of my colleagues, who will be glad to accept money to help pay off the $60K it took to earn the degree.

 

But what it comes down to, with this particular lawsuit, is whether you'll still be able to pay $15 a year and get experienced volunteers training new volunteers, which has served the BSA quite well for 100 year now, or whether the BSA will now have to hire professional trainers with very particular skills (not just someone with a degree in organizational development but someone who specializes in the outdoors AND has the organizational development degree)to not just organize training, but to do the actual training and make it a very intensive course that is mandated for any adult who joins a trip just to cover for potential liability in the future. Forget the "Three G's". Consider that possibility as the death knell for the BSA.

 

As for this particular, and admittedly tragic, case? I see nothing in the complaint that points to negligence. What I see is alleged negligence. It has to be proven first. There are going to be hurdles that both sides will have to jump. The first that jumps to mind is determining whether it was prudent to even do the hike in this kind of weather. To someone in the South, it might not automatically be assumed that hiking in 92 degree weather on flat land with nearly a gallon of water in the Big Cypress Reserve, on a trail that, regardless of the image the Everglades invokes, is mostly a Bald Cypress woodland if I recall correctly, is probably not safe as someone in the North (say, Minnesota) might think. Opinions will vary, but you have to convince a jury - and this will be a jury of Floridians.

 

I'm struck by the same thing Beavah was. The publicity factor. I tend to believe that when a plaintiff's attorney is making publicity hay out of lawsuits such as these, it's because they are hoping that public sympathy will generate a desire on the defendents to put themselves past the issue by settling fairly quickly and that the defendent won't let it be taken to court where sympathy and the law are not friends and where the defense has the opportunity to out doubt in the jurors minds (ie: Mr. X - did you raise any objections or concerns with Defendant about the temperature before the hike began? No?? Why not? Mrs. X - have there ever been any indications that Defendant wasn't prepared on past outings? Did you ever voice any concerns that Defendant wasn't competant to lead your son on a hike? Mr. Ranger - what does the Big Cypress Preserve suggest is the recommended amount of water a person should take on a day hike? Your answer is about a gallon, is that correct?).

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Just out of curiousity, because I'm not able to view the video right now. Did this take place on an established trail that was marked and/or maintained by some agency such as the National Park Service or National Forest Service?

 

That certainly wouldn't be the only factor, but it is something that I would consider as a juror, especially if they had checked in with a ranger or someone in charge before setting off. (Of course, if the ranger had said that it was too hot a day to be hiking on that trail, then that would be an even more relevant factor, IMHO.)

 

Clearly, that's not the only factor. Obviously, a trail might be unsafe due to particular weather conditions, so it's not the same as walking around at the mall. But that would be a pretty big factor for me--these Scouts were members of the public out using a facility that is open to the general public, and were subject to the same risks as other members of the public.

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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...

 

Actually, there is something they could have done - and that the rest of us should keep in mind too. In this day and age of the Internet and YouTube, the best defense against a Nightline-style hatchet job is to have your own camera at the interview. Have a friend/colleague tag along to the interview with a camcorder and record it yourself. Then if they do a hatchet job, release the full, unedited, interview on YouTube. More people will probably see your clip than Nightline's, frankly.

 

 

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I would have to agree with JMHawkins. There are so many times that the media outlet "edits" the parts that they want or don't want released to their viewers or readers. That's what gets viewer ratings and subscription sales up.

 

There was a friend of mine that did an interview for a local newspaper some time back. When he read the published article he said that the writer/editor had botched the entire story.

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According to the complaint, the Scouts used a trail through Big Cypress called "The Florida Trail". The Florida Trail is a 1,500 mile trail across Florida, a state version of the Appalachian Trail. The Scouts were hiking a portion of the trail that runs through Big Cypress, which is marked.

 

The Scouts may, or may not, have checked in with the Rangers. But the trailhead would likely have had a map of the trail, and there is generally lists of rules and warnings at the trailheads in National Parks.

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I was assuming that the trail head was within the fee area of a Park, where they would have interacted with a ranger at least to pay the fee.

 

But even if the trailhead is unattended, I think that photo would be the most powerful thing to show the jury, since it probably looks like a rest area on the side of a public highway, with parking lot and signs, and probably trash cans and outhouse. (And the trailhead 20 miles away, where they must have had a car parked, probably looked the same.)

 

Chances are, they met other people on the trail that day, and they were probably all just individuals not connected with any organized group.

 

In short, they were probably just availing themselves of a recreational activity, the same way that other members of the public were doing. While this case was certainly tragic, it doesn't sound like the kind of thing that would call for a professional guide or someone with any high level of expertise.

 

On the other hand, if the trail was absolutely empty of other people that day, that would be a pretty powerful thing to tell the jury, because it means those people had the sense to stay home.

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"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... "

 

Actually the best thing would have been to say, "NO COMMENT"

 

 

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You should never utter the two words "no comment", especially if a camera is rolling in the general vicinity. Even if a camera is not rolling, it gets rendered by the reporter as "____ refused to comment on the air."

 

But if you are seen uttering those two words on the air, the public generally interprets this as "I am guilty".

 

If you really must, the words to politely utter are something like, "I really want to talk to you, but our lawyers said that any requests should go through them." Then, give them the lawyer's phone number. When asked follow up questions, politely repeat the same phrase, ad nauseum. They will, of course, pick the one where you sounded most nervous, but they'll only show you saying it once.

 

When you say this, it really doesn't make good television, so they probably won't even air it. But if they do, it looks like you're the victim of those #@$#*# lawyers.

 

If you just say "no comment", you wind up looking like Nixon, with something juicy to cover up. It makes great (but short) television. It's not quite as good as putting your hand over the camera lens, but it's close.

 

 

 

 

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Big question for me, as I am not familiar with the area; but a look up says it is often under water in places during part of the year. Should I presume that since it was hot, the under water part was not as likely? And, since it has so much water, is that water drinkable with proper filtration and treatment? Just wonder.

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I just noticed this from one of the posts....

 

"This makes for a sensational story..."

 

Really? You would describe real story the death of a boy as "sensational"?

 

Wow.

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sensational

   /sɛnˈseɪʃənl/ Show Spelled[sen-sey-shuh-nl] Show IPA

adjective

1. producing or designed to produce a startling effect, strong reaction, intense interest, etc., esp. by exaggerated, superficial, or lurid elements: a sensational novel.

2. extraordinarily good; conspicuously excellent; phenomenal: a sensational quarterback.

 

 

 

I would guess the poster was using definition #1.

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Please.......

 

I agree that the boy was outa shape, I also agree that the SM should have called for help an hour or more earlier than he did. I don't think the hike was difficult. They could have started earlier in the day, in cooler temps.

 

Please, we hike all the time in 90 degree weather in the foothills of Appalachia. Not mountains but we typically clime 3000 feet of vertical in about 10 miles.

 

Anyone who thinks IOLS first aid training is remotely adequate, come here ya need a slap in the back of the head. Isn't the Red Cross wilderness first aid required to go to the high adventure bases.

 

Hiking suggestions for those who don't hike

 

1. Hydrate on the way to the hike, everyone should drink 800ml or more on the way in the van or cars. The body can only absorb water at a very slow rate, and once active the boys won't drink.

 

2. Stop for hydration breaks every 15 minutes. watch everyone and have their buddy's watch and make sure everyone's drinking. If there is a doubt you get to drink again

 

3. Make sure everyone is peeing, if you have a lad who isn't, keep him close at by and have him drink every 5 minutes or so till he does. copious and clear, even our cubs know that one. we also use hydrate or die.

 

4. Snacking along the way, I like gummy bears, harbos the good ones. sugar keeps the guys going. Trail mix is good. there are some sports snacks that are good too, sports beans, shok blocks and gels.

 

5. Solid lunch, we take pocket rockets and make ramen noodles, sodium is your friend when it is hot.

 

Everyone needs a solid breakfast before we start, Most don't eat breakfast anymore, then for lunch they bring a hoggie and a coke and no trail snacks. I have stopped at the carryout more than once for snacks for boys who did no bring.

 

City dwellers aren't used to real physical activity.

 

I got a question for the group........If we go backpacking and I have a scout who does not meet the BMI guidelines am I opening my self up for problems if he has a problem???????

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If anything this death in Florida proves that every SM needs to get to know his boys better before taking them on a long hike in remote wilderness areas. First, be honest with those boys who due to weight or medical history makes them a potentially serious risk for any trip and suggest ways they can get in shape and ready physically before even attempting this sort of trip. The SM who chooses to take high risk youth better make sure he has a trained medical professional with the proper equipment to handle any kind of emergency along. As was said here in other posts there is a potential risk in many boy scout activities which the boys and the parents need to understand upfront. All scout leaders can do is to be sure that they are as adequately prepared and trained to handle most any emergency as possible, however even with all the preparation there is no guarantee that something will not happen.

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BP, along with what you said, I would give a written statement outlining a non-all inclusive list of risks associated with any event or outing that the scouts may participate in and have a waiver of liability signed by the parents and notarized; thereby, indemnifying and holding harmless the scouters, troop and BSA - a swim at your own risk type of deal. Schools do it all the time with activity/field trips.

 

Would this stop any lawsuits, probably not. But I do believe that it would make parents more aware of the potential risks and liabilities associated with the events their scout is involved with and keep the monkey of preparation on the parent's/scout's back.

 

My parents signed liability waivers for me all the time when I was a kid - school, church camp, scouts.

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>>>>>>Really? You would describe real story the death of a boy as "sensational"?

>>>>>>

>>>>>>Wow.

 

Well, I described the story as sensational, which seems entirely appropriate after viewing it and in light of the other comments as well.

 

I'm glad that Engineer61 found my vocabulary usage impressive.

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