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Adventure Activity Emergency Response Planning Guideline (DRAFT FOR CONSULTATION)

This document has been reviewed extensively by select Group Commissioners and Scouts Canada staff, but it has not yet been formally approved, and does not yet represent requirements for Scouting adventures.

This is your opportunity to read the document and to provide your feedback—please use the form at the bottom of page, and share your thoughts by August 16. We value your feedback, and we will use your constructive criticisms, questions and ideas to make this resources as clear, sensible and robust as possible. Thank you in advance for your contributions.

Adventure Activity Emergency Response Planning Guideline (DRAFT FOR CONSULTATION)


The purpose of this document is to provide guidance, best practices, and examples to support Group Commissioners and Section Scouters for Emergency Response Planning for (Outdoor) Adventure activities and local meeting places. This document refers to the minimum requirements laid out in the Emergency Preparedness and Response Standard that ensures Scouts Canada members have efficient and effective management of emergency situations with the potential to impact Scouts Canada, its stakeholders, the environment, assets, financial condition or reputation.

Role of the Group Commissioner & Responsible Scouter in Emergency Response 

The primary role of the Group Commissioner (GC) is to ensure that all Scouters, especially Section Contact Scouters and Scouters in Charge (the responsible Scouter that signs the Adventure Activity Application) are both knowledgeable and competent to execute their requirements and the minimum expectations for Emergency Response (ref. Scouts Canada Emergency Preparedness and Response Standard).

The GC is also responsible to ensure that all Scouters are aware of their responsibilities namely – at all activities: Scouters must have the Emergency Response Plan, a list of participants and the schedule of activities or itinerary available to all Scouters.

The following two sections provide specifics on Emergency Response and Emergency Communications that the GC and Scouter in Charge need to ensure are adhered to at all times.

Emergency Response 

For every Scouting meeting (including local meeting hall), activity, camp or event, each Group and Section (e.g. Colony, Pack, Troop, Company and Crew) must prepare an Emergency Response Plan (ERP) that addresses expected and unexpected situations. The ERP will include the Emergency Response Guidelines that outline a number of specific situations and a corresponding course of actions for responding to emergencies. Additional measures must be developed for potential situations not addressed in the guidelines and noted on the ERP. 

  • The weekly meeting hall and surrounds (to include Category 1 activities) must have an ERP developed specific for meetings, it should take into account changing weather and risk conditions – it should be developed to be applicable for multiple types of events and updated regularly.
  • In a regularly used location, the Responsible Scouter must conduct a fire drill (evacuation drill) at the beginning of the year. Youth are to be instructed on emergency exits and the gathering place outside.

Scouters play a key role and are responsible for the management of unexpected situations or an emergency. Prevention is the key objective. Consider possible scenarios and take steps to minimize or prevent their occurrence. Scouters should plan for how they would deal with an emergency and unexpected or unusual circumstance.

The Responsible Scouter (“Scouter in Charge”) must confirm participants’ understanding of site/facility safety precautions such as waterfront rules and fire procedures or other site/facility safety precautions. The Responsible Scouter must instruct participants as to the location of the phone or designated means of communication and how to use it.

When youth participants become ill or are injured during an event/activity to the extent that they need medical care, the Responsible Scouter must communicate this to the youth’s parent(s)/guardian(s) and, through consultation with the parent(s)/guardian(s), determine an appropriate course of action which may include making arrangements for the youth to be sent home.

  • The Scouter in Charge must inform parent(s)/guardian(s) of the specifics of the care that will be provided if the participant remains at the event/activity.
  • When an accident or injury occurs, the Scouters must take corrective actions immediately to help prevent its reoccurrence (i.e. if a fall occurs due to a broken chair, remove or fix the chair).

When a group is away from their community, the Responsible Scouter must arrange for a person in the community who is provincial/territorial age of majority and is not going on the trip to be designated as the local Home Contact Person – typically this is the Group Commissioner or another Scouter from the same Group. Examples of types of activities where this is used are:

  • Camps
  • Day trips away from the community
  • Canoe/kayak/sail tripping or other adventure activities
  • Travel touring in Canada
  • International travel

Emergency Communication 

The Responsible Scouter must plan for group communication to be reliable and supported by back- up plans. Scouters must plan for a communication method between group members. This may include, but is not limited to, use of the buddy system, whistles, signaling, walkie-talkies, cell phones, SPOT devices, satellite phones, etc.

The Responsible Scouter must:

  • Determine the procedure for making calls in an emergency
  • Decide who is called first and by whom
  • Clarify when in the emergency process you call for assistance
  • Determine who calls, clarify when participants’ relatives are called and who calls, and clarify if and when Scouts Canada – Safe Scouting is contacted and who calls them. Include this information on the ERP; some provincial websites include an emergency number for members to call for support in a crisis situation.

If adventure camping or tripping, a call to the Home Contact Person must be scheduled to confirm safe return of the group. As appropriate, additional calls may be scheduled during the trip.

The Responsible Scouter must confirm that they have accurate EMS contact information for the location where the activity is to take place. In the event of a situation where EMS has been contacted, the Responsible Scouter must also contact the parents of the youth as well as Group Commissioner.

In the event of a crisis, after taking steps to deal with the immediate situation and the needs of the youth, the Responsible Scouter must initiate contact with Scouts Canada through their Commissioner to make them aware of the nature of the incident. See the Communication Plan Guidelines on the Emergency Response Plan.

APPENDIX 1: Best Practice – Emergency Response Guidelines

The details of the Emergency Response are dependent on the location or facility and the type of activity. Scouts Canada owned facilities will provide you with the basic plan; however, you will need to fill in some of the details relevant to your participants and activities. 

When using outfitters or facilities for specialized activities, you will need to contact them to obtain information on their emergency response planning. You will develop your plan taking this information into consideration.

When an emergency occurs, if possible, assign someone to take notes of actions during the emergency. As soon as possible afterwards, each person involved should make their own notes about their actions.

A communications plan is an important part of emergency response planning. The Communication Plan Guidelines outlined in this section will assist you in determining who to contact when and how to deal with your emergency.

The examples that follow are typical risks that should be included on a Scouting specific ERP. They are not exhaustive nor appropriate for all ERPs and are provided for guidance only.

Missing Person

A missing person refers to a participant who is unaccounted for. It is important to constantly monitor the group and to pay special attention whenever there is a change in the activity. Early recognition of an unaccounted-for participant can often result in preventing the incident from becoming more serious. The following are some general guidelines to assist with managing this type of situation:

  • Have buddies check-in with their buddy to determine exactly who is missing.
  • Determine the time and place where the person(s) was last seen.
  • Check the facility and surroundings, focusing on areas where the person is most likely to be.
  • Check areas that may pose a hazard (on the street, waterfront/pools, rock cuts, etc.).
  • Assign someone to remain with the group. Assign as many available adults to assist with checking high likelihood areas.
  • Establish a firm timeframe to report back to rest of group (no more than 20 mins).
  • Establish a timeframe for follow-up with parents.
  • Contact authorities if your efforts to locate the missing person(s) has not been successful
    • in an urban environment this should be no longer than 30 minutes. In remote environments this should be no more than one hour.
  • In an urban environment, immediately attract the attention of people in the area bystanders can assist by being on the look-out for suspicious activity.


An evacuation refers to having to quickly remove the group from an unexpected and potentially dangerous situation. This may relate to exiting a building, relocating a campsite or leaving a public area. Each situation is going to be different so it is important to consider the following guidelines before having to manage this type of situation:

  • Consider reasons you may need to evacuate – fire, severe weather, severe injury, wide-spread illness
  • Define a meeting place to go to outside of the danger area – inform the group of this location
  • Determine a means of transportation if leaving the site
  • If possible, conduct a buddy check-in and head count before leaving the site
  • Upon arrival at evacuation site conduct a buddy check-in and headcount
  • Determine an all-clear signal or system for communicating when it is safe to return to the site
  • Reassure participants and attend to their needs
  • Monitor the situation for changing or threatening conditions

Persons with Disabilities

The Scouter has the responsibility to facilitate the alerting and safe evacuation and sheltering of persons with disabilities during an emergency. These individuals may require assistance. This information must be included on your emergency response plan.

Never separate a disabled person from their service animal or assistive device.


An intruder refers to a person believed to have the intention of harming or through his/her actions could harm Scouters, adults or participants. This could be a random situation or a result of a pre-existing relationship with a group member or nearby member of the public. The following are some general guidelines to assist with managing this type of situation:

  • Lockdown area/facility/room – lock and barricade doors, keep the group out of sight and from making any noise
  • If possible, without alerting the intruder, communicate with others in other activity areas of the potential threat
  • Note identifying features and threatening actions of an intruder
  • Contact the police and report the situation
  • Conduct a headcount
  • Be prepared to remain in a lockdown situation for a substantial period of time 

Traumatic/Medical Emergency

A traumatic or medical emergency is a situation where a participant or supervisor requires immediate medical attention from trained professionals. This situation could develop from a traumatic accident (vehicle crash) or an acute medical condition (appendicitis) – these are emergencies that require urgent medical care. First aid may assist in stabilizing the patient, but they ultimately need to be in an emergency equipped hospital. The following are some general guidelines to assist with managing this type of situation:

  • Assign someone to look after the patient (preferably someone with first aid training).
  • Manage the safety of the group.
  • Contact EMS and explain the situation – use the communication plan from the Emergency Response Plan.
  • If possible, send a group to meet the emergency response crew responding and lead them to the patient.
  • Assist the first responders as directed.
  • Take care of the needs of the group.
  • If possible, send a Scouts Canada representative with the patient.
  • Ask for assistance from EMS in contacting parents/guardians.
  • Notify the Group Commissioner and Safe Scouting.
  • Determine the best course of action for the group.

Parent/Guardian Does Not Arrive to Pick-up Child

The following are some general guidelines to assist with managing this type of situation:

  • Call parent/guardian and ask permission to have child go with another parent/guardian
  • If no answer, arrange for them to travel with two screened volunteers. Avoid one-on-one situations and include either another Scouter or adult (in emergencies). Leave a message for parents at all contact numbers.
  • If possible, continue calling during travel.
  • Set up a policy in advance so that parents/guardians know what will happen if they are late.

Hyperthermia / Hypothermia / Exhaustion

The following are some general guidelines to assist with managing this type of situation:

  • Scouter in charge believes that children are not dressed appropriately, they will cancel their participation and be asked to return with their parent/guardian.
  • First Aiders aware and prepared.
  • All Venturers / parents to be made aware to provide adequate clothing and water. Any special requirements must be stated and met prior to departure.
  • All youth to have a waterproof and carry an extra sweater [Hyperthermia].
  • All youth to carry water, an extra trash bag, whistle and emergency blanket.
  • Gloves / mitts / hats required for cold days – and always when snow present.
  • Extra food and water will be carried by group. Spare blankets, emergency survival blankets and water / food carried in vehicles at car park.

APPENDIX 2: Example – ERP Layout / Content 

1: Emergency phone numbers pertinent to their location for: Police, Fire, Ambulance and Poison Control. 

2: Emergency Procedures: In the event of an emergency the following procedures will be followed:

The most qualified person available takes control until medical personnel arrive – usually this will be the Scouter in Charge or (an emergency professional if on the team or in the parent volunteers) in their absence a qualified First Aider with Red Cross CPR and AED qualifications (or equivalent).

This person will:

  1. Assess the nature of the accident / incident and the extent of the injury or injuries.
  2. Direct other Scouters to call for appropriate assistance and to manage the crowd.
    • In cases requiring serious medical attention EMS will always be called. Scouters will not transport youth away from the site unless safety / emergency requires.
    • EMS will not be called for minor injuries / first aid and non-life-threatening injuries (including strains / sprains / breaks etc. unless other conditions necessitate e.g. Scouter-Youth ratio, location, local conditions etc..).
    • First Aid such as scratches, bruises, minor cuts, stings, or potential minor (bone) breaks etc. will be dealt with by the First Aiders as required.
  3. Treat or oversee treatment of casualty/casualties; this continues until medical personnel arrives.
  4. Document and report incident – the online incident report forms (ScoutSafe App) will be used.
  5. Evaluate the accident for future prevention and transfer learnings via the Group Commissioner and shared in the Group Committee meetings.

3: First Aid. At least one adult with the appropriate first aid certification and equipment appropriate to the activity is included in each outdoor activity.

  • A First Aid Kit No. 2 (or equivalent) is available appropriate for youth usage. Extra equipment is carried as appropriate – dependent on the activity.
  • At least 2 Scouters / Youth have Wilderness First Aid qualifications.

4: Backup Communication (Base): Left with a responsible person at home the following: trip plan, map, list of names, phone numbers, signed Camping / Outdoor Application Form, Parent Consent Forms (as required), parent / guardian contact lists, start/finish points and times.

5: Communications.

  • In all situations emergency communications will be (made) available – parents will be informed when SPOT devices or satellite phones are being used / carried.
  • In most situations mobile / cell phones will be used for contacting parents.
  • Landlines will be used whenever practicable for Medical emergencies – this allows the EMS to identify location.
  • All Scouters have access to the phone numbers including parents / guardians / youth.
  • In the case of no or limited cell phone coverage (e.g. mountain hikes) Scouters / Venturers (if camping without Scouters) will plan for the nearest route back to the main roads to get communication for help.

6: Program Participant Enrolment Forms or Application for Membership and Appointment of Volunteers for each individual. These are stored digitally in MyScouts and ScoutsTracker for every event. All Scouters carry a paper copy of downloaded information. The information recorded is:

  • Parent / Guardian Contact Details
  • Medical History / Allergies / Special medical or other requirements pertinent to Scouting

7: Evacuation plan:

We will consider options and evaluate the risks before the decision to evacuate – fire, severe weather (note degrees of weather), severe injury, wide-spread illness. IF an evacuation is required, we will:

  • Define a meeting place to go to outside of the danger area.
  • Determine a means of transportation (if leaving the site).
  • If possible, conduct a buddy check-in and head count before leaving the site
  • Upon arrival at evacuation site conduct a buddy check-in and headcount
  • Determine an all-clear signal or system for communicating when it is safe to return
  • Reassure participants (parents / guardians as required) and attend to their needs
  • Monitor the situation for changing or threatening conditions

8: Accident reporting/recording procedures.

Accident reporting will be conducted by the lead (Emergency Controller) immediately after the event. Forms are included in the emergency file (on site) – priority and preference will be given to online ScoutSafe app submission. Forms will be sent to GC immediately for information and accordingly forwarded to Scouts Canada.

9: Emergency repair kits where appropriate. (i.e.: for bicycles, stoves, tents, canoes etc.). These will be provided where appropriate – a Scouter will be assigned in advance to collect / provide / purchase these as required

10: Specific / Additional Risk Identification and Management Plan [Section Specific]

To be added by the Scouter in Charge – see examples provided.

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