Emergency Management

The Trip Plan should include an emergency management component whose purpose is to determine appropriate actions to be taken in the event that things go wrong. This section must be fully understood by all participants with roles and responsibilities clearly defined. The following general list provides requirements that should be included:


  1. Ensure a form of effective communication is readily available and appropriate (i.e. adequate coverage) to the area (i.e. cell phones, 3-watt bag phones, satellite phones, SPOT Messenger). Satellite phones can be rented from various providers; however, it is less expensive to purchase a satellite phone for extended trips. Supervisors should be familiar with the different communications technologies available and should carry effective communications systems (and backup systems if failure of primary system is possible) that are suitable for the student group, the program goals and objectives, and the terrain. Documented communication strategies are mandatory when traveling to Level 3 or a Level 4 Travel Advisory areas. The communication strategy will contain details of how, who and when connections with the Canadian government, the University and personal contacts will be made and will include detailed procedures on steps to be taken when planned contacts are unable to be engaged. Steps should escalate in severity as the time since last contact increases. For example, the first act might be for the Administrative representative to attempt to contact the field personnel. A mid level action may be to contact UBC senior administration and Public Relations. The rate of escalation will depend on the local circumstances and risks. It is now common practice in commercial and institutional outdoor programs to use the communications technology that best suits the group’s isolation. Options include VHF radio, cellular telephone, single side band, satellite telephone, SPOT Messenger, and personal locator beacons (PLBs). Ideally, participants will have two different forms of communication with them in the field. If a field crew operating at one location will be working some distance from another, they must be able to check with each other on a regular basis that is predetermined. Knowledge of the capabilities of various external response groups such as ambulance, police, search and rescue groups and other commercial operations should be determined. Clearly defined procedures should be written to mobilize the various resources as needed during an emergency.
  2. All participants shall carry appropriate emergency numbers and outlined procedures.
  3. Establish communication check points (someone to look for you if you are missing after a pre-determined time or date). If the area you are in is more remote, more dangerous or requires dangerous activities, check-ins should be more frequent than if you are in a less remote area. Your communication contact at home should have a pre-determined list of steps to follow should you miss your check in. As time progresses, these steps should escalate in the seriousness of their action.
  4. Determine first aid procedures:
    1. Ensure adequate first aid coverage (OFA Level 1 Certificate or higher depending on hazards associated with trip). Two first aid attendants are preferred when traveling in a group. Ensure effective communication between attendant(s) and rest of group.
    2. Plan distribution of Level 1 First Aid Kits (or higher depending on hazards associated with trip). Other recommended items include: flashlight with batteries, waterproof matches, and road/route map
    3. Provide copies of the first aid procedures to all participants including: The equipment, supplies, facilities, first aid attendants and services available, the location of and how to summon first aid, how the first aid attendant is to respond to a call for first aid, the authority of the first aid attendant over the treatment of the injured and the responsibility of the attendant to report injuries to the University, who is to call for transportation of the injured and the method of transportation and calling, and prearranged routes in and out of the field site and to medical treatment
    4. Transportation to medical aid must be supplied by or at the employer’s expense. Provisions for transportation must be made prior to the trip as part of the emergency response procedures (i.e. barriers to first aid, distance from medical aid must be determined and a plan must be in place.)
    5. Require participants to carry Health Care/insurance cards and as well as pertinent medical information (i.e. asthma, allergies) and necessary personal medical supplies/prescriptions and instructions for first aid attendant. Any individuals with special medical needs are responsible for communicating these needs to the first aid attendant prior to departure.
    6. Include information on proximity to hospitals, medical assistance; ensure you have the appropriate local emergency numbers.
  5. Minimize working alone where practicable. If working alone is required, complete a risk assessment and develop a formal communication plan with individuals assigned to work alone.
  6. Understand the UBC accident/incident reporting requirements. See the Risk Management Department for your campus where you can find procedures and forms required for accident/incident reporting.