New Checklists and Reporting Requirements in Guide to Safe Scouting

The quarterly update of the Guide to Safe Scouting includes two new checklists in the appendix.

The Campout Safety Checklist (PDF) is two pages long with 35 items, and a big improvement in BSA risk management. Some of the checklist items:

  • Have weather conditions been checked and communicated?
  • Has an adult been assigned to help Scouts with taking meds?
  • Is a mechanism in place for contacting a camp ranger or camp office (e.g., walkie-talkie, mobile phone, etc.)?
  • Has the location of the nearest hospital/ER been identified and announced to all adults?
  • Is the unit first-aid kit in a conspicuous location and readily available?
  • Have any incidents been recorded and reported, if necessary, to BSA professionals?
  • Have the adult and youth leaders captured any lessons learned from the campout?

There is a similar Event Safety Checklist (PDF) for non-camping activities.

Units are now required to report all incidents and near misses. I’m not sure when this was added, but this is the first time I’ve noticed it. These reports make more paperwork for adults, but are key to improving our risk management. The Incident Descriptions and Reporting Instructions (PDF) sheet establishes incident levels and reporting requirements. Here is a overview with some of the incident types, but read the original, it is a single page with another page of definitions.

  • Catastrophic: fatality or life-critical hospitalization, allegation of sexual abuse, major multi-vehicle accident, national publicity — report as soon as possible (after 911 or other immediate response).
  • Serious/Critical: other hospitalization, non-sexual abuse, disease or food-born illness outbreak, bomb threat, local publicity — report within 24 hours
  • Marginal: first aid, ER visit and released, emergency response initiated, serious near miss — report within five days
  • Negligible: near miss, injury or illness not requiring first aid — report by end of charter year

The Incident Information Report (fillable PDF) is linked from the appendix.

There is also a Near Miss Incident Information Report (fillable PDF), but that is not linked from the appendix. It is linked from the health and safety forms page. It should be linked from the Guide to Safe Scouting.

Instead of this colorful PDF for the incident types and definition, I’d like to see them printed in simple text on the back of each Incident Information Form and Near Miss form. The BSA seems to love over-decorative PDFs for basic information.

A set of specific examples would help, too. There is one in the GSS’s Incident Reporting Policy, but more would be useful. If there is lightning nearby and your hiking group takes lightning precautions, is that a near miss? A serious near miss? Not an incident at all? We helped extinguish a single tree fire on a 50 Miler. Is that a near miss or a good turn? Let’s hope the BSA gets enough reports this year that they can give better guidance in 2015.