BSA Incident Reporting

I’m excited about the incident reporting that the BSA requires now, but there may be a few kinks to work out.

How are they going to handle the volume with paper reporting? Using the back of a virtual envelope, we have 40,000 troops and five reports/year from each one. That is 200,000 reports. They’ll be lucky to get a few thousand this year, but on-line reporting is a must.

Any “first aid” is a Marginal incident, which must be reported within five days. That means a report for every blister. With about 900,000 Scouts and Venturers, 100% reporting could mean a million reports per year.

Obviously, there will be massive under-reporting, so the BSA should do something to estimate the true rates. Perhaps a sampling survey, or at least a re-charter checkbox on whether you are participating in the incident reporting program.

Many of these reports are going to be injuries or illnesses (property damage is also reported), and that is personal medical information. I’m not a HIPAA expert, but I doubt that leaving names out of a report is sufficient anonymization to protect health information. The BSA needs to provide some guidance on this. Perhaps they could update the release on the annual health form to cover incident reporting.

A quarterly or yearly report would be wonderful. I’m sure that would give the PR department the willies, but it has to be better than the current ostrich approach.

This is a gold mine for outdoor safety studies. It might become the largest database of such data. NOLS Wilderness Medicine Institute has done some great work with their stats, so the BSA should partner with them.

Is this being piloted at Philmont? I’m sure the staff reports incidents that they know about, but I don’t see anything about crew reporting in the Council and Unit Planning Guide or the Guidebook to Adventure for the 2014 season.

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