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Texas Scout dies of heat stroke on backpack


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#21 HelpfulTracks

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 01:21 PM

A young man is dead. Parents, friends and family are grieving.

 

I realize there may be something to learn from a safety and program perspective, but it is not something that is going to be solved here.

 

On the outside change that his friends or family are reading these boards, perhaps we could dial it back a bit.


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#22 Col. Flagg

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Posted 15 September 2017 - 02:15 PM

But this wasn't  "a Crew going out on the trail" in the context of a "Trek", it was 3 guys doing a non-programmatic day hike.  The "Trek" for the the Intro to Backpacking course didn't start until Wednesday.  Therefore the section of the brochure headed with "Adult Leadership on Treks" wasn't applicable.  If you can find me a section that discusses "Adult Leadership at Base Camp" you will have something to point to.

 

Page 5: "ADULT LEADERSHIP ON TREKS All crews going on the trail must have adult leaders; one must be 21 years of age or older, the other 18 years of age or older. Coed Crews must have coed leadership."

 

The guide does not say that only if you go out on the trail in terms of a trek that adults need to be along. It is pretty clear. "All crews going on the trail must have adult leaders...," and in this context the "crew" was out on the trail. Period. That's pretty clear. You are the only one making a distinction between trek and base camp. The Leader Guide does not.


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#23 qwazse

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Posted 17 September 2017 - 04:43 PM

@HelpfulTracks, I do not propose to speak for any of the family. Grief like they are feeling has come all too close to our troop. In our experience, our affected family was glad that we all asked very hard questions, although in our case we could find nobody to fault. I would say that unless we here directly from the families involved, these discussions on how to deliver the program we promise don't qualify as "too much to soon." Some of us design backpacking programs for scouts and other young people. Hashing this out and garnering any lessons learned may very well forestall death.

So, back to topic ...

 

The YPT portion of G2SS is not at issue here. I've said elsewhere that two unqualified adults on a patrol hike are worse than none. Because of injuries, I have removed myself from sections of hikes and arranged rendevous with contingents of youth and one or none adults at checkpoints or outposts that would minimize my miles hiked. But that was because, among the youth (or one adult) were seasoned backpackers with first aid skills. We had reviewed the plan in advance, including checking the weather and flood levels for potential hazards, adjusting if necessary.

 

Now, on my good days, I only have a clear understanding of the PA/WV envelope. In that context, reviewing the advanced forecast, I would not approve any hike in 105 degree temps for a seasoned patrol of EMT's. That is simply far outside our backpacking performance envelope. And it's not just me. Nobody I know - and that includes friends from the Arabian peninsula - could tell me how to prepare scouts to manage hiking under those conditions. (There are these Sudanese guys and gals in town, but they had to endure a level of crazy heat that they swear they would not wish on their worst enemies.)

If I called anyone and said, "There are these boys with this awesome hike plan, the only catch is this week's temps ..." They would tell me to strongly consider caving. So, for this scenario, zero scouts and zero adults is the correct combination that I would guarantee to parents. But what do I know? I was raised 10 miles north of the Mason-Dixon line ... almost almost heaven.

 

Maybe in TX there are scenarios where one can enjoyably hike newbies in 105 deg heat as long as a couple of key people are monitoring vitals. In that instance, if those two key people are 17 y.o. heat shock specialists, I'd count them as the "two adults" that the camp was promising. The point is, when I pick up that brochure, I want to be convinced that the best people for the worst conditions are my kid's trainers, that nobody would put my kid in an advanced situation when his beginner skills have not been given a year to gel, and that the camp director - filling in for the SM - will make no-go decisions when conditions exceed a patrol's performance envelope.

 

But then again, that's why I would never send my kid to camp to learn backpacking.


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#24 Back Pack

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Posted 18 September 2017 - 06:38 AM

@qwazse you are right about not hiking in high temps. As my handle suggests I do a ton of backpacking and have taken several training classes. I've heard several times the importance of checking temps, heat index or wind chill temperatures as part of your preparation. I've also backpacked several times in high temperatures with that east coast high humidity. It's not enjoyable or safe. It's not easy to talk about something like this but maybe the lesson learned here is that it's okay to call off an activity if you think the weather is a factor. There's no shame in cancelling due to heat, cold, rain or snow. I think sometimes kids or adults feel that because they are scouts they shouldn't cancel an event.
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