All participants must sign the waiver form if they wish to participate. Participants are to have read it before they go. You may need to tell newcomers that a sample waiver is on our website. For participants aged 13-18, both the participant and a parent must sign the waiver form, while for children aged 12 or less, the parent must sign.
Read the covering letter for the waiver (go to the ACC National site and click on the “Waiver Admin Policy” link). It has a section on what to do in the event of an incident.
The ACC liability insurance policy covers situations where alleged negligence on the part of an ACC volunteer or member results in personal injury or certain types of property damage ($2M maximum). The group is not covered for any travel or approach involving white-water, nor for third-party liability. The basic legal test that would be applied to any incident on a climb is that an individual acted reasonably and with the skill of a person of similar background and experience in a given situation. The test simply measures the reasonableness of a particular act in a given set of circumstances.
During the trip
It is normal and preferred that groups remain together. Consideration of group size or experience may suggest the advisability of appointing a willing experienced assistant leader. This approach has been found to work well if the party must separate for any reason, including pace, route choice, injury or illness, (or in extreme cases of punning or spoonerisms!).
Communication is important. Outline to the group your idea of the day’s activities and, during the trip, give reasons for your decisions. Be open to input from the group.
Test everyone’s transceivers at the beginning of each ski day.
Stay in touch with the safety needs of the group. You decide when to rope up. Be sensitive to the comfort level of inexperienced participants.
Encourage participants to wear their helmets whenever it is logical.
In the event that a participant becomes ill or injured, or in case of unsafe conditions, it is better to change plans, or return to town, and forego the original objective.
Ask a participant to write a trip report for the Bushwhacker (or do one yourself), and be sure to include photos.
After the trip
Record the leader(s) name and any comments you deem relevant on the waiver form and send it to the section archivist at firstname.lastname@example.org, who will keep it on file for 7 years.
Leading in a Crisis
We hope it never happens, but sometimes things go wrong: perhaps conditions turn dangerous or someone is injured. Then the group focus shifts from recreation to safety and survival. The coordinator’s role also changes to a decisive style. When an accident occurs, there is no time for lengthy debate. Prompt, effective action is needed, and it should be directed by someone with training and experience. The coordinator should stay “hands off’ as much as possible, directing others, maintaining an overview, and thinking ahead to the next steps. The party should be guided by the four rules of rescue in managing a crisis:
The safety of the rescuers comes first, even before that of the victim.
Act promptly, but deliberately and calmly.
Use procedures you have learned and practiced; this is no time to experiment.>
Stay with your group. It is sometimes necessary to scout around while route-finding, but you should always be within communication range, and preferably within shouting distance.
It is easy to think that all trip mishaps are life-threatening situations and that the outcome depends solely on what the rescuers do. In fact, neither is usually the case. First, most accidents result in cuts and bruises, sprains, sometimes broken bones, but only occasionally anything worse. Second, the outcome is usually determined by factors beyond the rescuers’ control. All that can be reasonably expected is that the trip coordinator draws upon training and experience to devise an appropriate plan and then carry it out as safely and effectively as conditions permit.
The best way to avoid trouble is to anticipate it. Coordinators should always be thinking ahead, asking, “What if?” In camp, they think of the climb; on the ascent, of the descent; in success, of retreat. They look for early signs of fatigue in participants, mentally record bivouac sites, keep watch on the time, and note any changes in the weather. Everywhere on trips, coordinators mentally cross bridges before reaching them. Trying to stay a step ahead, they hope to avoid problems or to catch burgeoning ones before they become crisis. Get in the habit of anticipating trouble while you’re planning your trip. For example, “On this ridge, what’s my best escape route?”
Accidents are unexpected, but you can prepare for them by taking courses, reading, and mentally rehearsing. All trip coordinators must have a valid First Aid certificate. Anyone participating in outdoor activities in the mountains should supplement their First Aid training. Check out our course schedule for more information.
Also, you can benefit from studying the experiences of others climbers. The American Alpine Club and The Alpine Club of Canada jointly publish Accidents in North American >Mountaineering (available on Amazon.ca) This annual publication contains detailed descriptions and analyses of mountaineering accidents and is instructive.