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Yet another Jamboree incident

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Ok guys let me shoot down some of the things you have heard. I was a kid who was personally at the 2005 jamboree(just got back). First off it was very hot, However we were aloud to have water bottles as long as they were pure clear, like no see through tinted orange was aloud like anageline bottles. Also they handed out water in big packs and if they didnt the whole ground would have not been littered with 1000's of bottles. And by them saying we could take off our shirts, that ment our class A shirt. So here is the true information. Also there were alot of kids fainting but alot of that was there own and the Scoutmasters fault. Our scoutmaster made sure that we all drank a couple of bottles of water before we left for the arena.

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Just returned from my 2.5 weeks on the 2005 Jamboree staff. Wow! How we can blame the liberal media for anything in this is way beyond me.


I was at the opening Jamboree arena show and, along with hundreds of others, assisted in the treatment and evacuation of Scouts affected by heat exhaustion. There was plenty of water in the arena but no amount of water can protect all people from long security lines, 2-3 hours in the direct sun, an enclosed arena, a heat index of 110 degrees (or more), and no air movement. Fat or not, many people are going to be affected. Even staff members were impacted.


The tragedy here is that other activities had already been canceled because of the extreme heat on that day and during the previous days but, for some political reason, this one was not. This show continued despite the red-level heat warning and thunderstorm alerts issued that same morning in the staff Jamboree newsletter. I guess the desire to appease Bush and Frist was more important than the health and safety of 40,000 Scouts.


I keep seeing the 300 affected boys number but you guys aren't even close. There were more than 2,100 people treated for heat exhaustion by medical staff at the Jamboree. More than 400 cases were sent to base and area hospitals alone. BSA may spin the 300 figure but it's not correct and will come become an embarassment later. I'm scared to even estimate how many boys were diagnosed and treated by their Scoutmasters and did not request further assistance. I know that my own son was in this last group.


This was not a disaster like a tornado where everything happened at once. It started and then grew as the boys evacuated so it would be easy to miss parts of it.


As the carnage unfolded the Jamboree medical staff and Army medical facilities were quickly overwhelmed. A helicopter was brought in. Ambulances poured in from the surrounding counties as Jamboree staff and other adults scrambled to identify cases and provide assistance.


Many staff from all over the Jamboree ran out of the arena to set up hoses along the side of the roads to spray the boys as they marched back to their camps. I heard that SCUBA pools were opened to help people cool down. Staff and other adults helped dozens of boys who collapsed on the sides of the road just trying to get back to camp. The boys started calling it the "death march."


Even after the predicted thunderstorm had come and passed, ambulance sirens continued all night long down A.P. Hill Drive, Thomas Road, Gordon Trail area, and through the subcamps as Scoutmasters had suffering boys come to ask for help during the night. It was a disaster of truly epic proportion.


We screwed this up all by ourselves. Given the circumstance, the liberal media has shown remarkable restraint. We can kick them all we want in anticipation but, frankly, we did a good enough job making ourselves look bad without their help.

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Hi Rick,

While I wasn't all over the site, I have to say that I just didn't see what you describe. The Guys in Sub-camp 4 didn't have the problems that you describe.

We had several members of our Council serve on the Jamboree medical staff, in different sub-camps and not one has described what you have.

The Father of my 3rd ASM, a RN worked at Wilcox Hospital and he said the number was about 300 who needed help.

Wilcox which in 2001 had twice as many beds was pushed and did send Scouts out to local ER's and did fly out extra equipment to these local hospitals. Some Scouts were also taken by helicopter to these hospitals, due to Wilcox being so short of beds.

As I say I can't say how well or how badly the Scouts that were a long way from the Arena area fared. I do with all due respect think that you may be overstating it.


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"We screwed this up all by ourselves ... we did a good enough job making ourselves look bad without their help."


I read again your entire post, telling of how those in need were cared for and assistance given. You said you yourself assisted in the treatment of Scouts affected by heat exhaustion. Sounds great!


What was it that we did to make ourselves look bad??

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You guys are missing the real point on the water issue from what I heard. Yes there were water bottles everywhere and I mean everywhere at the first arena show. When I stood to leave just in our troop I would guess there were 200 empty bottles - easily 4 to 6 for each boy. The problem was not the water - the reports I heard was that the boys who were in real medical trouble had taken in larege amounts of water and sweated it all out along with all their electrolites. There was no gatoraid or other such drink offerd. So we received new instructions the next morning regarding drinking one bottle of gatoraid for every two bottles of water.

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"What was it that we did to make ourselves look bad?? "


We made ourselves look bad because we put our own boys in danger. There was already a red-level heat alert in place that day as well as afternoon thunderstorm warnings. Both of these alerts had been published in the staff jambo update that very same day. Other outdoor activities had already been canceled because of the heat.


I don't know what logic the Jamboree safety people used to determine that it was unsafe to allow most physical activity but that it was safe to put tens of thousands of boys into that arena in those conditions. I doubt they were even asked.

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Sorry everyone, but concerned_scout66 is right on the facts. I was there, and I know of it, too.


It was a "red flag" heat alert day, with temperature over 100, and a heat index much higher (115 or more wouldn't surprise me). It's absolutely true that the Jambo medical staff earlier that day recommended to Jambo organizers that the arena show be cancelled due to health and safety concerns arising from the high heat and humidity. I was a 1st ASM in Subcamp 5 from the Northeast region. I saw that afternoon a med tech from the Western region, and he told me that Jambo med staff recommended cancellation. Then I spoke to an M.D. from our own subcamp who is from my own home district, and she confirmed the exact same story. She also told me that the 300 hundred figure was grossly understated; she guestimated 1200 or more felled by heat.


I don't know why the powers to be tried to allow the show to go on, when they knew what the weather was like and what the med staff had recommended. I was there in 2001, and when the 1st show was cancelled due to storms, neither the president or Barbara Mandrell could make the rescheduled show. But the president did send a video message that was broadcast at the rescheduled show. Maybe this year the Secret Service arm-twisted the Jambo organizers with the threat that it was that night or no night for the President. I just don't know. What I do know is that the organizers really blew it when they clearly knew what the situation was, and had prior advice of their own medical experts, and yet tried to proceed regardless. Decisions bordering on child abuse and criminality. And yes, I heard numerous persons refer to it afterwards as the "death march."


No 1st show was ever rescheduled, and there was only a single arena show on Sunday evening. The weather was much cooler, and it went off without a hitch. The President appeared, and was warmly received. A bit of a recycled speech; much of what he said I have heard him say exactly the same before. The rest of the show was pretty lame; only the closing fireworks show as memorable.

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" (115 or more wouldn't surprise me). "


talked to one of the scouts from our council troop. he said heat index of about 130 (not sure how true this is)



"she guestimated 1200 or more felled by heat."


same scout i talked to saaid 1526 (this i believe totally)



" I heard numerous persons refer to it afterwards as the "death march."



same scout called it the same exact thing.


this just makes me wonder

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Guess who was in charge of Jamboree "Risk Management" - one of our Council's Executive Board members.


That's NOT something I would be highlighting right now. Below is a release I would NOT be sending out (but that's just me). The obliviousness to the many levels of irony is astounding. Of course NO mention is made of all the emergencies that NEEDED attention at the Jamboree in this release. Few believe this Jamboree's "Emergency Planning" reflected well on B.S.A.as highlighted in far too many press articles.


After reading the statement below, one could be forgiven if thinking that somehow with this being a "boy's event," Scouts themselves are somehow responsible for the screw-ups. After all, "Adults dont have all the answers and the evidence is that some of the plans we received have fantastic ideas that have already been submitted to Homeland Security.


I'm not sure what was meant there but it is far too clear that Adults did not have some very basic "answers." My 9 year old could have told you that dumping water and waiting for 3 hours in the sun was stupid and you don't touch power lines with metal objects.


I wonder if all the effort that went into planning for this award since 2003 was a bit "misdirected." Perhaps the effort SHOULD have gone into planning for REAL EMERGENCIES at the Jamboree instead of giving out what turned out to be a truly ironic award.


But this seems to reflect much of what is wrong with BSA (and society at large)right now - a focus on image and not substance...ignoring REAL problems instead of acknowledging them in any way.....


I'm embarassed for our Council and embarrassed for Scouting.




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In regards the heat index and it's impact, I've been trying to locate something authoritative. This site from the Austin School district is the best I've seen so far:




The newspaper articles from Richmond mentioned that the heat index was between 105 and 115 that afternoon. Here's the description from that site for that range:


"Sunstroke, heat cramps, or heat exhaustion likely, and heatstroke possible with prolonged exposure and/or physical activity."


They also note here that direct sun can add up to 15 degrees to the heat index. I'm sort of assuming that the direct sun numbers are figured in already but I don't know. If not, the potential impact is even worse.


BSA and the Jamboree event organizers knew that these boys would be standing in the sun for a minimum of 3 hours -- 2 hours of this just to make Bush feel secure. I think they owe us an official statement about why they decided to go ahead with the arena show despite the conditions. Perhaps next time they should make Senator Bill Frist stand in the field with the boys instead of backstage in an airconditioned trailer?


I'm not planning to hold my breath.

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"I wonder what kind of outcries and criticisms we'd be

hearing if this Jamboree took place 25 or 30 years ago?"


Hmmmm... Good question. You mean before the internet? Back when news spin could be controlled simply by the reporters you invite to an event -- as opposed to spun by thousands of people with differing perspectives and cheap access to a media band of infinite capacity?


I'm guessing that the outcries and criticisms would be locally heard but missing globally. Scouts and Scouters would not have any ability to compare their perspectives against others and, lacking validation, their negative opinions would gradually dim and be replaced by the good memories. A few years after the event, those same people would be thinking "oh yeah, it was sort of warm that year... next time I'll bring a bigger fan..."





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The 2100 figure is closest to the actual number of affected individuals BUT, that number reflects ALL heat related cases, most of which happened outside the arena and many before the event...or involving people who did not even travel to the arena show.


While I agree the show should have been canceled sooner let's remember that the weather conditions existed everywhere at AP Hill not just at or around the arena. I can also tell you, as someone working crowd control at the arena that day, that many people (scouters, scouts, and guests) came woefully unprepared.


Grossly overweight adults, elderly, and the very young had no business coming to an open field event with temperatures over 100 degrees (many without water and many who walked past the free water bottles). Those were precisely the people who were the vast majority of heat related casualties.


The instructions given were quite clear, If you had a transparent water bottle then entering the arena would not be a problem, only opaque containers had to be empty and ready for inspection and could then be refilled once inside the arena.


There was ample water available, numerous warnings were given to hydrate, remove clothing, avoid physical activities, and yet many ignored those instructions. I asked a number of people to go sit in the limited shade near the edge of the field until the program was about to begin, only a few took that advice to heart.


This is by no means approval of the decisions made earlier in the day by the Jamboree administration and the Army brass, but ill preparation, and poor decision making was as common among the audience that entered the arena as among the decision makers who allowed the event to continue.

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Well thank you Mr. White. You have confirmed my greatest fear - that parents will hold me responsible for that day. For I know deep in my heart I am the one responsible for my scouts - no one else. I just can not shake that feeling of responsibility. When all else fails - those boys were in my care and I made the same decision that those in charge made - I offered shade and rest and water to those that obviously needed it - but what I should have done was to require that my scouts stand and march back to camp.


But wait, that would have been worse, or so I reasoned in own bad (heated) judgement. Without updated knowledge that the storm was arriving as quickly as it was I falsely believed that sitting in the sun or shade was better than walking in the sun. At least they were at rest. The three miles I ran EVERY morning for three months preparing to keep up with the scouts left me unprepared for what occured that day.


As rescue units tried in vain to crawl down the same entrance road the scouts were exiting the arena on, my scouts were ushered (ordered) by those in charge into the woods - where they stepped on a yellow jacket nest - one scout was stung 12 times and many others stung only 4 or 5 times. In the sea of scouts it took nearly 15 minutes to make it to a medical tent - only to be told they were CLOSE - completely over whelmed with heat victims. Not knowing if he was alergic - I asked "What do I do if he collapses?" - Call 911 was the official answer I received. My shaken scout finally made it to the next medical tent another 15 minutes later. One of your friends, Mr White, advised that it is wise to look where you are stepping when in the woods. Professional scouts can be so helpful when times are tough! Next time we will be sure to bring our x-ray vision glasses so we can see those little guys in their underground next. At least the scout knew whose fault the adults in charge thought it was that he got stung.


I suppose it was also my responsibility that following the closing arena show we were walking back up the side of Thomas Road in the dark of night - without street lights - without flashlights (as we were not allowed to bring them) as cars and trucks moved both ways on Thomas Road. I am sure were I to turn a trip request (or my son seek approval for an Eagle Service Project) that required scouts to hike on a road with traffic moving in both directions - in the pitch black of night - with Flashlights forbidden - such would NEVER be approved - NEVER!! Yet there we were with the full approval of National professional scouts. Off the road to avoid the traffic - out of the woods to avoid the yellow jackets - trying to manage our way safely back to camp.


In the vast sea of humnanity there was no way for me to corral my 36 scouts - yet I feard then as I do now that others would second guess my ill judgement and hold me responsible as you do Mr. White. I look forward to your guide to assit me in determing who is to stay in camp at the next Jamboree. Because when I walk off and leave that scout in camp and tell him he is not physically fit enough to particitpate in the openning show as everyone else is - I want to be sure I am using the sound and effective judgement of someone like yourself. Imagine you have sent your son with me to Jambo and he returns home to say he missed the President and openning arena show becasue I deemed him physically unfit - left in camp as all the other 35 scouts marched off to the show. Please send me your guidelines - so I know that I am in the right next time.

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