Excerpts from the Safety Plan
Orienteering is an outdoor activity that carries a risk of personal injury
due to natural and man-made hazards, animal encounters and environmental
Participants are expected to understand the risks of taking part in
orienteering competitions and may be asked sign a waiver to this effect.
While the competitor acknowledges these risks, the organizers have developed
an action plan that covers how to reasonably minimize these risks and what to do
in case of competitor injury or if a competitor is overdue. The plan provides
sufficient details for specific actions and responsibilities to prevent the
situation from becoming worse. The key to this plan is the ability to have rapid
communication with emergency services in the area.
Communication during Barebones
- Various personal cell phones past experience shows good coverage across
all competition areas.
- FWOC Public Address system will be in use at most events (where
practicable). This will allow quick communication with competitors in the
assembly area (though not with those on their courses).
First Aid / Medical Emergency
- The First Aid area will be situated near the finish line. There will be
a First Aid kit here. This area will not be permanently manned.
- All minor injuries (cuts, scrapes, sprains, etc) are to be treated on
site. There is generally no requirement to contact the emergency services
for minor injuries, although this will be left to the discretion of the
- All major injuries (including breaks, dislocations) or life-threatening
injuries will require the implementation of the Emergency Medical System and
evacuation to a health care facility. The appropriate Ambulance Service will
be contacted by phone and notified of the seriousness of the injury. The
Barebones First Aid attendant will be the Medical Lead and will be
responsible for calling the ambulance if one is required.
- For all significant treated injuries, an Injury Report Form (attached)
should be completed and submitted to the event organizer.
- For non-residents of Canada, a 'consent to be treated' form needs to be
signed before any treatments are instituted. Copies of these forms will be
available at the First Aid tent.
- Natural disasters such as floods, forest fires, or severe storms may
happen with little notice. The Event Director or the Safety Chief may cancel
the event and notify the appropriate emergency agency in such situations.
Event organizers and competitors will follow evacuation instructions from
the Emergency Services.
- The organizers will have lists of all participants who have started and
finished and will therefore know if anyone is still out in the terrain.
Depending on the situation, the organizers will either wait for all
participants to report back and leave, or will provide information to
- Competitors will be told the safety bearing on their map
- Competitors will be given a maximum allowed time to report to the
- Competitors will be reminded of the serious implications of not
reporting to the finish within their maximum allowed time.
- Identification of overdue competitors
- When a competitor is overdue by more than 30 minutes past that
persons maximum allowed time, the Event Director is to be notified by
finish line personnel or other reporting person. After an initial
assessment, he will consult with the Safety Chief. In order for the
finish line personnel to be able to accurately know how long each
competitor has been out on their course it is vital to have accurate
start time information. To keep accurate and timely information about
who is on the course:
- If anybody is started at a time different from their assigned
start time, the start officials must communicate, within a
reasonable amount of time, the new start time to the finish
- If friends or relatives of a competitor express concern about a
competitor they should be taken to the first-aid area and Event Director
and Safety Chief are to be notified. Under no circumstances are they
allowed back onto the course to search (see below).
- Determining if a search is necessary
- The Event Director or Safety Chief will deal with friends and
relatives, informing them of the situation and the procedures being
undertaken. The purpose is to reassure them and prevent them from
rushing out to search for the overdue competitor. They are to be given a
seat, given something to drink, reassured, and informed of the process
that is being followed. They should provide a description of the person,
the clothes they are wearing, details of their course and their
expertise. This person(s) must not be allowed to leave until the overdue
person has been found or until cleared by the Safety Chief.
- Competitors who are in the finish area will be interviewed:
- To ensure the person has not come in
- Asking people on the same course if they have seen the overdue
competitor on the course
- Initiating a search
- When a competitor is overdue by more than 60 minutes past the
persons maximum allowed time, the Safety Chief will contact the
Emergency Services and inform them that a search is being initiating for
an overdue competitor.
- Under no circumstances will an active search of the course be
initiated by anyone without the approval or direction of the Safety
Chief. This will prevent the over-zealous actions of the inexperienced
who might themselves become lost or injured. The need to act as a team
rather than as individuals cannot be overemphasized.
- A controlled search of the immediate area may be initiated and will
be under the direction of the Safety Chief only. This may include:
- searching parking areas, washrooms, other nearby facilities,
start / finish areas
- driving cars on the roads bounding and crossing the map.
- the Safety Chief may decide to send experienced orienteers on
the missing persons course, to check all control locations.
- Calling in Emergency Services
- At some point in time no later than 3 hours past the overdue persons
maximum allowed time, the Safety Chief must contact the Emergency
Services and ask for assistance. The decision to call in emergency
services, after the above attempts to find the person, should be made by
the Safety Chief and Event Director.
- The actual decision as to how and when to call in emergency services
will depend a lot upon circumstances. It is difficult to give black and
white answers here, since there are so many factors, such as the age,
health and experience of the participant; weather conditions; length of
time the participant is overdue; etc. Examples of factors to be
- age, health, experience of the participant
- weather conditions
- length of time the participant is overdue
- last seen location of participant (e.g. radio controls, other
- amount of daylight left
- nature of the terrain
- The Emergency Services will become the Search Master upon arrival at
Encounters with large wild animals
Orienteering carries a risk of encounters with large wild animals.
Historically most encounters have been with organizers, in particular the course
planners and controllers, prior to the event itself. Nevertheless participants
must be aware of the risks and be prepared.
Sighting or Encounters with large wild animals
- If potentially dangerous animals are known to be in the area during
Barebones, the organizers will consult with Conservation Officers as to
whether the event should proceed.
- If a participant reports back to the start/finish area about an animal
sighting or encounter, any other participants waiting to start will be
warned so they can decide whether to go out on the course. Conservation
Officers will also be notified.
- It may not be practical to contact the participants who are already out
on the course.
Reducing the chance of encounters with large wild animals
To reduce encounters with competitors during the event the following steps
- Identify potential problems in advance:
- Beginning stages of planning. At the time of applying for an event
permit, the organizers discuss the general areas of the terrain most
suitable for the competition to reduce the chance of animal encounters
- Weeks before the event. The course planners / controllers visit each
control site in the weeks prior to the event for the purposes of
planning the courses.
- Days before the event. The course planner / controller visit each
control site to place the flag and timing unit
- Hours before the event. Vettors visit each control site immediately
before the event begins to check the timing equipment is ready for the
At all stages of the planning, any animal encounters or signs of activity
will be reported to the course planner and controller who may then consult
with the Event Director, Safety Chief, or Conservation Officers. Measures
taken at this point may involve modifying the courses, cancelling the race,
or further study.
- Minimize encounters by planning:
The International Orienteering Federation has a number of Environmental
publications and recommendations that will be reviewed periodically. These
are available at
Various studies have been conducted that show that elk and deer both have a
flushing distance of about 200m, but that deer will retreat for
approximately 600m, while elk go approximately 1300m. Therefore the
following course planning guidelines are recommended
- If the terrain covered by the various courses is large, then refuge
areas should be provided for animals. Ideally these will be areas of
thick forest. These will be marked as out of bounds on the maps and
courses will be designed so all sensible route choices will stay away
from these areas. Courses that go past these refuge areas will be
designed to circulate around them in the same direction.
- If the terrain covered by the various courses is relatively small
(perhaps 2-3 sq km or less) then no refuge areas are required as the
flight distances will take animals outside of the competition terrain.
- Minimize encounters with noise.
- We will use a PA system in the finish area and play continuous
music. This should cause large mammals to move away from this area,
which encompass the shorter courses used especially for the young
- We may ask the vettors (who will visit each control site immediately
before the event) to carry air horns and to blow them from time to time
to warn any animals that there are humans using the area.
- We will encourage competitors to make noise as they travel through
the forest, by shouting for example.
- We will encourage competitors to carry noise makers to be used to
the case of an encounter to scare away the animal and to call for help.
Current Canadian Orienteering Federation rules require competitors to
carry a whistle we will ask them to consider carrying bear-bangers or
air horns as well.