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 conditions.

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

  1. Various personal cell phones past experience shows good coverage across all competition areas.
  2. 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

  1. 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.
  2. 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 Safety Chief.
  3. 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.
  4. For all significant treated injuries, an Injury Report Form (attached) should be completed and submitted to the event organizer.
  5. 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 Disaster

  1. 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.
  2. 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 emergency agencies.

Overdue Person

  1. Prevention:
    1. Competitors will be told the safety bearing on their map
    2. Competitors will be given a maximum allowed time to report to the finish.
    3. Competitors will be reminded of the serious implications of not reporting to the finish within their maximum allowed time.
  2. Identification of overdue competitors
    1. 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:
      1. 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 personnel.
    2. 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).
  3. Determining if a search is necessary
    1. 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.
    2. Competitors who are in the finish area will be interviewed:
      1. To ensure the person has not come in
      2. Asking people on the same course if they have seen the overdue competitor on the course
  4. Initiating a search
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. A controlled search of the immediate area may be initiated and will be under the direction of the Safety Chief only. This may include:
      1. searching parking areas, washrooms, other nearby facilities, start / finish areas
      2. driving cars on the roads bounding and crossing the map.
      3. the Safety Chief may decide to send experienced orienteers on the missing persons course, to check all control locations.
  5. Calling in Emergency Services
    1. 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.
    2. 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 considered include:
    1. The Emergency Services will become the Search Master upon arrival at the site.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 are taken:

  1. Identify potential problems in advance:
    1. 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
    2. 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.
    3. Days before the event. The course planner / controller visit each control site to place the flag and timing unit
    4. Hours before the event. Vettors visit each control site immediately before the event begins to check the timing equipment is ready for the competition.

    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.

  2. 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 www.orienteering.org. 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
    1. 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.
    2. 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.
  3. Minimize encounters with noise.
    1. 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 competitors.
    2. 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.
    3. We will encourage competitors to make noise as they travel through the forest, by shouting for example.
    4. 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.