/ World Challenge-Morroco "no helicopter, no ambulance, no medic"
So... in the coroners verdict of misadventure, he questioned why there was no access to a helicpoter, ambulance, medic in the high atlas mountains.
The school the boy was from have said "If we had been made aware from the beginning that in the event of an emergency the best that we could hope for was a local minibus with not even the most basic medical facilities or equipment on board and no trained medic to save lives, we would not as an academy have signed off on the trip."
Seems a bit of an over reaction to a tragic death, and total ignorance as to how much of the rest of the world exists!!
Sure. But then again, in this day and age, what kind of school or similar body would send a group off to do an outdoor activity in a foreign country without checking the medical / evac / repatriation system in place? Saying they didn't know is not good enough.
I must admit that was my initial reaction, why did they sign off the trip without asking the question.
They rely on the company to do so in their place (the cost of recces alone would be prohibitive for the exped, we do want these trips to happen? Don't we?) The company would find out where the local hospitals were and figure out the best way to get to them from where the group are at the time. Realistically, the easiest way to get someone to hospital in most countries is finding a vehicle and driving there. It is foolish and unrealistic for the coroner to expect UK standard rescue out of the UK, that simply does not happen in the majority of the world and it is to experience the way the majority lives is part of what these expeditions are about.
Totally agree it would be a real shame if that school and any other limit school trips to countries with equal medical and rescue services as the UK.
I know all that, but it's not the point. My point was that the school signed off on something they say would have been unacceptable to them if they had known about it. But that's the sort of thing a school *should* know about, by checking, regardless of the company used. The bloke himself:
..."chief executive of Bexley Business Academy .. said: "If we had been made aware from the beginning that in the event of an emergency the best that we could hope for was a local minibus with not even the most basic medical facilities …."
It's a school issue, a competence issue - not one of the company and not one of broader principles of outdoor education.
But as for the company. The cost of recces? Eh? Does the company have experience in the area or not? If they don't have any experience in the area they shouldn't be taking school kids there. This is World Challenge, not some small town tour company.
I agree. I think the school is just trying to shift blame.
Sounds like (and common sense would lead me to think) that there's shared responsibility here: the parents/kid for being unfit and obese, the schools for not checking things out properly, the company for not assessing the fitness correctly, and the leader for not managing the group properly and not pre-empting the condition.
Sounds like that a helicopter or anything wouldn't have helped anyway byt the time it had progressed to collapse. Some folks died this summer in Wales of similar, and being in the UK didn't save them.
> Seems a bit of an over reaction to a tragic death, and total ignorance as to how much of the rest of the world exists!!
I did a trip last year and the 2 years previous I always had a emergency beacon.
All the trips I've done for them you get full details of how to get help each day it sounds like help came quite quickly (not that I know the full details).
As far as I know the schools are kept fully up to date with all the details of the trip.
They might well have had a beacon, but imagine it's possible that they didn't use it as they didn't recognize the seriousness of the collapse, or that if they did it still takes hours for any help to arrive, not minutes!
That's not lack of resources as suggested though, is it?
Lack of resources meaning ambulances I'd have thought. A beacon is far from the answer to a problem like this. Basically considering the location I'd have thought that the kid was probably a gonner once it got to the stage of collapse.
Unfortunatly that's the attraction of these trips to be in the middle of no where which means help is not 5 mins away.
This seems to have been a very rare tragic accident like I said I've done quite a few of these trips for world challenge, in more remote areas, and found the back up to be excellent when needed.
Yeah, I think to some extent you have to recognize these trips are not without risk, it's just that this death actually seems more preventable than a freak accident. (Have led a few WC trips as well btw, and though they were excellent.)
It seems to me that were WC got it wrong with this lad was not telling him he was too fat and unfit to go on the trip. Whether this was due to losing profit, lack of forethought or a fear of causing offence only they will know.
It's common for the kids not to be fit enough, but the leader has to recognize that and manage the group and route and conditions accordingly. Not perfect, but reality. WC would be right in trouble if it started turning down fat and unfit kids from trips - I can see the headline now!
Quote from the parents "we thought he was going to be in a protective bubble"…….. sorry thats just ignorance, the whole point of sending children away on these sorts of ventures is for them to experience new challenges and unfortunately that comes with an increased level of risk.
The case is obviously tragic and i feel for the expedition leader and school leader, parents and all involved.
- The child was obese and unfit, did the parents think it wise to send their child on a challenging expedition in the middle of summer where temperatures of 40 deg C are common?
- Did the child / parents disclose the medical condition / medication that the child was taking and if so was the implications of this made aware to the child and the expedition leaders?
- It would take a very brave leader / school leader or company to turn around and say No to someone because they are obese….. how does the schools inclusion policy work now?
- It's clear that the expedition was suitably resourced with regards to Sat Comms and beacons etc as a CASEVAC was initiated, i just wonder whether the seriousness of the situation was understood and communicated to the World Challenge Ops room? If so, why was the incident not resourced to a higher standard?
Very sad incident but i don't think it's realistic to expect helicopters to drop from the sky as soon as you pick up a sat phone. I've had to wait 3 hours on the side of a mountain in the lake district for rescue, a helicopter didn't come for me…. would the school not sign off on a DoE trip to the Lakes then?
Good post, in agreement.
You're probably right, unfortunately. Maybe if any good can come of this it might be a reality to check to prioritise safety over 'inclusion'.
While it's not quite the same thing, other expedition companies turn away prospective clients from trips if they're clearly not physically up to it. I've actually done this myself, not long ago, advised a group that a certain person - obese, unfit - could not be catered for on the expedition and simply could not go.
It would take a very brave leader / school leader or company to turn around and say No to someone because they are obese….. how does the schools inclusion policy work now?
I did exactly this with a trip planned for Pakistan. It was conceived as a tough trekking trip and a 'large' girl with more issues than you could shake a stick at wanted to go. She had not even managed a D of E bronze expedition and never took regular exercise.The mother thought it would be the making of her and received some support from senior staff who didn't want to upset them. However the senior staff and the mother had no idea of expeditions and the implications (for the girl and other pupils)of what they were suggesting. I had to basically say that if they insisted that the girl went, then I would not run the trip. Inclusion is fine but not if it puts others at risk and is clearly not in the best interests of the person at that time. If they manage to change eg get fit then things might be reconsidered.
I have run or expeds to Ecuador and Chamonix and many, many adventure training trips around the UK for cadets. I would have no qualms about telling someone they were too fat, sorry, unfit, to go (thankfully it doesn't come up all that much). So don't see why it should be any different with schools - it's nothing to do with equality and inclusion, it's to do with safety and being capable of completing the task.
I've run a world challenge expedition to Tanzania and i only saw the team for 3 hrs during the run up to the trip before the expedition departure day.
So who should take the responsibility for making the decision not to allow an individual to go? The parents (not wanting their child to be put under any more physical or emotional stress due to not being able to perform physically on top of obesity and bed wetting), the school knowing the individual child intimately, physical abilities and emotional state of mind. The Company, or the individual expedition leader and would a company want individual leaders making those calls on their behalf and at what point in the expedition run up would this take place?
Whilst i do think that the leader maybe should have had the ability to modify the route or make allowances or out right not allow the young lad to go on the trip, i do feel that there are other "agents" who could also have provided input that might have prevented the leader / exped company taking extreme measures.
Sometimes i do think that adapting routes / activities just for the sake of inclusion is not necessarily the right decision, but on the ground it is a tough call to make.
Good but tough call. What was the reaction of the school, parents, and child?
School had to accept my verdict as they wanted the thing to proceed. They had to recognise that I had relevant experience having run previous trips eg to Tien Shan and plenty of my own to remote areas. Parents simply had to concede and the girl was hopefully relieved. Taking someone fat, unfit, with self-harming behaviours and a regular visit to counsellors to the Karakoram was not going to end happily.
It is all well and good discovering that someone on a trip is a bit less fit or not acclimatising well and then modifying plans but setting off knowing that there is a massive disparity within a group is ridiculous. If I had been offering a really gentle trip for fat and unfit kids then I would dissuade someone who was fit and experienced at the opposite end of the spectrum too. We were not talking about a stroll across Cannock Chase but 3 weeks in the Karakoram. We had held a launch meeting for parents and prospective participants where info was disseminated and there was the opportunity for parents to ask questions but this girl only expressed her keenness at a later date.
I certainly think it is naïve to imagine that emergency help is always going to be 'immediately' available. Without obviously knowing all the facts I expect that the leaders acted quickly and used their judgement that the minibus evacuation was the best option once the collapse had occurred.
Nothing personal, but that's f%$king ridiculous practice for taking children, inexperienced, with no middle-filter or experience/selection criteria. This issue came up on UKC several years ago, but it was the guide complaining about the company making her do it. It's wrong.
Ideally the parents, but that seems too much ask nowadays. The schools can't be expected to know everything and are obviously outsourcing the service, so ultimately, given they have to deal with the immediate consequences on the ground, the company must have the ultimate say. Much like a ship's captain has the ultimate say in where the ship goes, and how, regardless of who chartered it or who is on board.
Sure, but that seems an unrealistic expectation at the moment, so the company has to draw the line.
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