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Our National Parks are a treasured heritage, and one of the ways in which we appreciate the outdoors. Millions of visitors flock to the parks in order to camp, hike, climb, swim and most of all, appreciate the wonder and natural beauty of America. As with any other outdoor setting, there are risks of injuries and illnesses. A recent cluster of cases of hantavirus pulmonary syndrome apparently originating from Curry Village in Yosemite National Park this summer points this out. Dr. Paul Auerbach provides details on this disease and why it is a serious concern in certain parts of the U.S.
A year ago I was literally inundated trying to launch the largest single outdoor orientation program in the country in the midst of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. Each September the Outdoor Action Program at Princeton University sends out over 1,000 students (800 freshmen and over 200 trip leaders) on our six-day outdoor orientation program. The impact of both storms created conditions that were, let's just say, unfavorable for our goals or student growth and personal safety so we evacuated all 1,000 back to campus. Would your program be ready to bring all your trips back in the field in the event of a major weather event? Check out the lessons learned from our experience. I hope this blog, written for my friends and colleagues will offer you some new lessons on dealing with the '50 to 100 year event' which might not ever happen to you, or might happen tomorrow.
The keynote speaker at this year's Wilderness Risk Management Conference is Tom Hornbein, M.D., a legend in mountaineering, Tom Hornbein, along with Willi Unsoeld, became the first climbers to ascend Mount Everest via the West Ridge as part of the first American expedition to Everest in May of 1963. His passion for mountaineering and his experience with mountain rescue and teaching prompted him to go on to medical school. His decades of expertise in altitude research and interest in the physiology of breathing is part of his great curiosity about how humans adapt to high altitude. In his ninth decade, he remains active in exploring, climbing and caring for mountain environments. You will be inspired by his exploration of risk management issues as Tom share his ruminations on the two sides of the risk-uncertainty coin. See more of Tom in the video below.
This post from Julie Anderson at Wilderness Medical Associates will be helpful for everyone. Walking through the first aid aisle at your local outfitter store can be overwhelming. While there are many excellent prepared kits on the market, often enthusiasts choose to create and specialize their own. Your kit will be different based on where you are camping and hiking. Trips at altitude, near marine environments or canyoning, and desert trekking each have unique needs that would require you augment your kit accordingly. Find out what you should be carrying.
The summer ssue of Wilderness Medicine Magazine published by the Wilderness Medical Society is now available online (PDF) - FREE.
The Summer 2012 issue is loaded with good reading: Everest Expedition: A Gutsy Trek by member Nancy Pietroski who experienced the WMS Everest trek; a one-on-one interview with world-renown UK physician, mountaineer and author Charlie Clarke; a review of the Best Wilderness Medicine Books; the Top 10 Best Backcountry Foods, poison plant identification and much more, plus all the latest WMS Society news and announcements.
How many people are involved in outdoor recreation activities and what activities are growing. The Outdoor Industry Association Recreation Participation Topline Report for 2012 shows the trends that may impact your organization.
In 2011, outdoor recreation among Americans reached the highest participation level in the last five years. Nearly 50 percent of all Americans ages six and older, or 141.1 million individuals, participated in at least one outdoor activity in 2011, making 11.6 billion outings. In fact, last year, Americans enjoyed 1.5 billion more outings than the previous year. Compared to 2010, participation in outdoor activities increased slightly among all age groups from 6 to 44, while participation among those ages 44 and up remained relatively flat.
The heat waves happening across the U.S this summer are of particular concern for outdoor programs where physical activity is combined with high heat and humidity. Heat stroke can be an immediately life-threatening illness. Dr. Paul Auerbach presents recent findings on field cooling along with links to other resources on Exertional Heat Illness.
Vehicles and driving are statistically the most dangerous thing that you can do in an outdoor program. As a result programs have extensive risk management protocols around vehicles and driving. But vehicles hazards aren't just associated with driving, what about when your groups come in contact with cars and roads in situations like where trails cross busy roads? Isn't this also a potentially serious risk management issue? And shouldn't you have some protocols in place to reduce these risks? I say the answer to both questions to yes and I propose a Road Crossing Protocol as a tool for leaders to help reduce the hazards associated with high-risk road crossings. If your program hikes across busy roads then you really need to read this article and consider how you would deal with this serious issue.
Every day you have to balance your risk management equation and keep tracking of changing laws and court decisions. The Recreation Law Center Library is your portal for understanding the complex legal issues in outdoor adventure and recreation. Reb Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp, two of the best known recreation law attorneys in the United States, analyze cutting edge court decisions pertinent to the industry.
The new Recreation Law Center Store let's you purchase individual Cases or a full Subscription that includes access to the complete Recreation Law Library for an entire year.
The hot days of summer bring lightning storms. Make sure you know the best practices for managing lightning risk in the backcountry.
The Indiana Supreme Court has provided us with a virtual symphony of duty of care issues. Duty is the obligation to protect another from harm. In the case of a teenage girl injured during a sporting event, we see that the duty of care owed to another is fluid, and can change, depending on the nature of the activity, the relationships of the parties to that activity or other factors. Even in the course of a one day hike, a camp semester, or a visit to a climbing gym, for example, the duty of a service provider to a participant can change many times and with it, the provider’s exposure and liability. Make sure you understand what your legal duty is to your clients.
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In 2012 the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) launched a Helmet Campaign. The aim of this campaign is to raise awareness amongst climbers and mountaineers about climbing helmets, and to help them decide when to wear one or not.
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