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SM12505

Camp Emergency Policies Ideas

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Hello again,

 

Sorry to ask another question so soon but I am looking for more advice. At camp we are getting ready for a new season and are in the process of updating our entire emergency plan to streamline the effort, so that we get aid to those who need it quickly and safely. In our camp we currently have a policy where in the event of any emergency all of the scouts and scouters are immediately dispatched to their campsites and then the staff goes to work, but our greatest fear that the emergency will be in the campsite and may put campers or staff at risk; we do have a large field but is out of the way for most of the campsite and takes some time to get to (about 5to 7 minuets brisk walk for the farthest campsite). So what I am asking is that if some scouters could share their summer camps emergency plan (specifically Lost camper, Lost Swimmer and Unauthorized person)to better serve a fellow camp.

 

YIS,

SM12505

 

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I do have a few thoughts though I don't have access to any specific council's policies - your scout executive should be able to network and get some to look at.

 

I've always felt that most scout camps insistence that scouts and scouters return to the campsites was inefficient. Instead, when the emergency siren sounds, the scouts and scouters should converge on a common area, like a field or dining hall. Camp can help this process by having flags with campsite names (my summer camp named their sites) in a nearby quickly accessible area that the units can identify and gather round to take their head counts. My experience with scout camp plans is that the scouts are to return to their camps, a headcount is taken, then a runner is sent to headquarters to make their report. The potential problem I see is that during some parts of the day, the scouts from the unit will be in far flung locations - sure, your site may be 7 minutes from the parade field but you may have a scout that is 10 minutes away from the campsite (and has to pass by the parade field to get there) so now you won't be able to report in for 17 minutes - and how long do you wait for someone to come back to camp - if you know the scout is 10 minutes away, do you panic at 11 minutes or give the scout just a few more minutes? In case of a storm where camp staff is wanting to shelter you in the dining hall, what sense does it make to report to your campsite first then hang on for 10 to 20 minutes to get to shelter? My preference would be everyone converges on the parade field to make their counts - it will likely save time and gives staff the opportunity to recruit help if they need it right away.

 

I see two possible scenarios for lost swimmer - one, a buddy can't find his partner during buddy check. This should instantly require the swimmers to leave the water, get their tag off the board, and stand with their buddy in the hopes that the buddy turns up and was just somewhere on the waterfront and couldn't get to their buddy fast enough. The other scenario is that a tag is left on the board after everyone has left the waterfront. In either case, if the tag holder isn't found, you need to initiate the camp emergency gathering plan to get a head count. In this case, you'll be able to zero in on the unit with the missing buddy/leftover tag. Unfortunately in either scenario, if the tag holder is still in the water somewhere, you are probably looking at a recovery rather than a rescue - and for this, you want your waterfront to be evacuated anyway - the only non-staff person at the waterfront during a recovery effort should be the scoutmaster (or other designated adult) of the unit involved.

 

Unauthorized person could have many meanings - an additional scouter in camp that wasn't registered, a car found on the side of the road that could mean someone is wandering the camp grounds, a visitor that didn't properly check in...I think you need to consider what scenarios you think you're going to face and develop individual policies around them.

 

CalicoPenn

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A big thank you to CalicoPenn for his elaborate explanation, it was a big help!

 

To clarify about the unauthorized person, while a scout/scouter/visitor has failed to check into the camp office does pose a problem and needs to bee addressed as quickly as possible, they do have good intentions. What I was referring to was a full blown person who 100% does not belong in camp. (i.e. Press poking around for a smear story, people just exploring the camp, or even worse a sex offender.)

 

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I would think that the worst potential intruder would be a parent who does not have custody of a child, at least that was the big thing at my camp. We were worried about random people of course, the news is only a big problem when we already have an issue in camp, and anyways, how in the world can you identify a sex offender on sight. Even if you have a photo list of sex offenders in the surrounding area, being able to recongnize them and make that connection...is just far fetched.

 

We worried that a parent who did not have custody of a child would come into camp and take the child away. Since they really are the parent, saying that they cannot have them is a difficult decision, especially if the child WANTS to go with them.

 

Any intruder policy should just focus on anyone who is acting suspicious while being in camp, or has come to attention as being a threat I would say.

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The camp I work at has all campers report to the parade field at the sound of the siren. The Program Director takes attendence no matter what the emergency is.

 

If the siren in "flexing" up and down:

Meanwhile the staff reports to the office where the camp director explains situation (fire, intruder, lost camper, etc) staff are sent out to certain parts of camp in 3's. When the fire/camper/intruder is spotted they return to the office.

 

If the siren is steady and long:

Staff reports to the aquatics area and begins lost bather procedures.

 

In special circumstances when the campers cannot be on the parade field (unsafe area, severe weather) staff "herds" the campers into the dining hall or other location.

 

Siren sounds for all clear after all drills.

 

I don't know how much is national policy, but this is what our camp does.

 

 

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I'm not sure what committee undertook writing our Council Emergency Policies.

But they all worked very hard to come up with plans that would work.

While it would seem that this might fall under the Camping Committee, I seem to remember it came under the Risk Management Committee.

This Committee is made up of people who are very familiar with State and Federal laws as well as insurance type issues.

While the well being and safety of Scouts is always number one there are also liability issues.

If we look back on last years hurricanes the one area that seemed to fall down and not work was communications. I would spend some time looking at finding the most effective way of communication.

Trying to look at Emergency's the following comes to mind:

Lost Scout.

Weather.

Fire.

Medical Emergency.

Dead Scout.

I'm sure given time I could fill the entire page with different headings.

It is very important that any policies cover how to avoid emergencies. Things like the Buddy System, Camp Site Inspections, Check in and sign out procedures.

Each area might also want to have and share with the campers policies that they have and locations of safety equipment, such as fire equipment, first aid kits, eye washing stations and so on.

Every care must be taken so as not to panic the entire camp. Establishing a who needs to know policy is very important.

Sadly in these days of cell phones misinformation can spread like wild fire and it is possible that things get very out of hand. As we seen in the West Virginia coal mining disaster a few weeks back.

A lot of this is covered at National Camp School and a lot can be covered in the Emergency Preparedness merit badge. But if you are offering a document you do need to look at what liability the camp staff and the council might be undertaking. I strongly urge to get a committee with a diverse group of people on it to serve the needs of both the campers and the council.

Eamonn.

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