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Emergency Call-ins

This article provides a structure for emergency contacts in bushwalking clubs and schools to respond to callers.

This section is from the Outdoor Action Program's Guidelines for Handling Emergency Situations and is not contained in The Backpacker's Field Manual. Copyright © 1999, all rights reserved, Rick Curtis, Outdoor Action Program, Princeton University and Random House Publishing, New York.

In the event of an emergency one of the most important components is how you handle the incoming call. You need to gather sufficient information to determine the nature of the problem and to select the most appropriate responses.

In order to categorize the nature of the response we use an adaptation of the International Scale of River Difficulty which is used to rate whitewater rivers on a scale from Class I to Class V. As you will see below, we use this scale to establish responses levels for Evacuation, Medical Response, and Notification.

1. Identify caller

2. Identify exact location and phone number. Can you call back? If not determine a time or plan for the caller to contact you again.

3. Interview caller to determine problem
  • Leaders may underestimate the nature of the problem so a conservative medical response is the best course of action.
4. Triage problem
  • Class I - minor medical problem. Person can remain on the trip.
  • Class II - minor medical problem. Person must be treated or evaluated at medical facility. Discharge and return to trip likely.
  • Class III - moderate medical problem. Person must be treated or evaluated at medical facility. Discharge and return to trip uncertain.
  • Class IV - serious medical problem. Person must be treated or evaluated at medical facility. Discharge and return to trip unlikely.
5. Determine appropriate evacuation response
  • Class I - hikes out on own power
    • How long will this take?
    • What if it takes longer?
    • What if patient’s condition deteriorates?
  • Class II - hikes out with assistance
    • How long will this take?
    • What if it takes longer?
    • What if patient’s condition deteriorates?
  • *Class III - needs to be picked up by vehicle
    • How long will this take?
    • What if it takes longer?
    • What if patient’s condition deteriorates?
  • Class IV - needs litter evacuation
    • How long will this take?
    • What if it takes longer?
    • What if patient’s condition deteriorates?
  • Class V - needs helicopter airlift
    • How long will this take?
    • What if it takes longer?
    • What if patient’s condition deteriorates?
6. Determine appropriate professional medical response
  • Class I - person seen on return to home base
  • Class II - leaders or support drives person to hospital
  • Class III - EMS meets groups at trailhead
  • Class IV - EMS sent in to group
  • Class V - Advanced Rescue Team or helicopter required
7. Notifications (each higher level is cumulative of the levels beneath)
  • Class I - Family members
  • Class II - Club President, Walk Secretary, Safety Officer
  • Class III - ?
  • Class IV - ?
8. Follow-up
  • How is the group doing? Do they need to be evacuated for emotional support?
  • Will the group need follow-up support and/or counseling upon return to campus?
  • Will the leaders need follow-up support and/or counseling upon return to campus?
Triage

The purpose of Triage is to determine the nature and extent of injury or illness. In the case of multiple victims, it is used to prioritize treatment. As you take an emergency phone call, you need to gather information to do your own triage of the situation.

1. Get full SOAP Note from Leader
  • History
  • Vitals
  • Problem list
  • Anticipated Problem list
2. Determine exact location of the group.
  • Where was the group when the messengers left?
  • How far are they from the trailhead?
  • What other options are there for reaching the patient? What is the group doing (staying put or hiking out?)
  • How will the time lengths of different evacuation modes affect the medical condition/treatment?
3. Contact outside experts as needed to develop emergency response plan
  • Based on problem as defined in #1 and #2 determine the "need for speed."
  • Implement the appropriate professional medical response as indicated above.
Copyright © 1999, all rights reserved, Rick Curtis, Outdoor Action Program, Princeton University and Random House Publishing, New York.

[Category:Leadership Skills][Category:Health, First Aid and Emergency Care]]
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