This PSAREP’S Guide provides guidelines for leaders of PSA Photo Adventures, events, programs or activities (referred to herein as “Events”). This Guide is meant to supplement, but not substitute for, the exercise of good judgment and common sense of experienced and thoughtful Leaders.
Safety is the First Priority.
The first priority in all cases is the personal safety of all participants and bystanders. At a minimum, the PSAREP or Leaders should assess the important risks prior to the event, and give a safety briefing to all participants at the beginning of the event. Risk assessments can be very simple or very detailed, depending upon the circumstances. The idea is to identify the kinds of risks presented in the Trip, and avoid those risks and make known to all participants the risks and how to avoid them.
The PSAREP is a volunteer who is qualified to have the responsibility and authority for the safety of the participants, and is the person who makes the final decision regarding participant safety in difficult situations. The PSAREP must be at least 21 years old, a PSA member, have the appropriate level of skill and experience for the proposed Event, have knowledge of safe group leadership practices, know the area and the route of the Event and be prepared with maps, compasses and GPS if called for, know the hazards and actions needed to avoid injury, know or have a designated person to handle basic first aid, and have appropriate emergency preparedness information.
Communications are Essential.
The PSAREP must provide for appropriate means of communication among the group and with emergency agencies.
Information about Event and Participants.
The PSAREP should know and communicate to the participants at the time of registration prior to the event, the details of the Event and the degree of strenuousness involved, such as time, distances, elevation gain, weather, and other relevant Event information, to give potential participants the chance to decide if the Event is within their ability or skill level. The PSAREP should communicate all the rules for the Event at the beginning of the Event. Participants are required to let the PSAREP know of any special medical conditions they have which could influence individual or group safety. If the PSAREP finds a potential participant is demonstrably unqualified for the kind of Event to be taken, or if a person is found during a trip to be unqualified, the PSAREP can encourage the person not to go on the Event or on future Events for which the person would not be qualified.
PSAREPs should advise participants ahead of the date of the Event, and check at the beginning of the Event, the equipment necessary to be brought by each participant. Individual equipment for an Event can include, but is not necessarily limited to: a pack (or camera bag), meal or meals including extra food, drinking water, appropriate clothing for weather and conditions, shoes or boots, a map, compass or GPS, sun protection, flashlight or headlamp, first aid kit and medications, a repair kit including a pocket knife, fire starter/matches, an emergency shelter (e.g. drop cloth, tarp or space blanket), an optional cell phone, and of course, appropriate photographic gear.
The PSAREP should arrange for a group first aid kit appropriate for the event, an accident report form, and communications equipment (e.g. cell phones). PSAREPs should take an inventory after the trip and replenish the kit. The kit should be returned to PSA headquarters.
Co Or Assistant PSAREPS, Managing the Group.
The PSAREP may assign a Co-PSAREP and Assistant PSAREPs, and assign and share Event responsibilities. There will be instances when these people will be asked to respond to separations of the group during accidents and emergencies; to take over if the PSAREP is incapacitated, and to handle other needs of the participants and the PSAREP. Keeping a group together or allowing it to spread out is up to the PSAREP, using good judgment under whatever circumstances are presented. Keeping a group together can involve a designated person at the front and the rear (sweep) of the group, and splits in the group can be covered by co-leaders or assistant leaders. A buddy system may be called for, where those moving together (and photographing together) would look out for each other and stay together. The PSAREP(s) should be physically strong enough to lead the trip and help participants in any emergency situation.
Weather, Rules of Parks or Areas Visited.
Good preparation for the event by PSAREPs also includes obtaining weather reports if appropriate, and rules and regulations of the area visited, e.g. national or state parks or wilderness areas, campus rules, and other requirements of the place where the Event is to take place. Access and parking permits may be needed from the appropriate agency. Event plans and emergency phone numbers may be required by those agencies, so that an overdue group can cause appropriate notice and action. However, safe and fun outings require more than rules. REPs and participants need to be prepared for foreseen and unforeseen or changing circumstances.
Carpooling to get to the point where Events start is recommended, but not organized by PSA. Participants can organize their carpools as private individuals. PSAREPs are not responsible for transportation arrangements for individual participants, or to organize carpooling. For insurance and liability purposes, Events begin and end at trailheads, or other places where events take place. All transportation by individuals to the starting point and from the ending point, and motorized travel from and to points in between, are entirely the responsibility of the participants.
Emergencies and Accident Reports.
In emergencies and serious accidents, PSAREPs are asked to stay calm, take charge of the situation and if called for, work with the designated first aid person, organize others present to do specific tasks, and use the entire group. It will be up to the PSAREP whether the whole group will stay in place to help, depending upon circumstances, remembering that the PSAREP is responsible for all, not just the injured person. First aid includes the right person taking charge of the situation, avoiding, if possible, further injury to the injured person or others, and performing any urgent first aid (breathing, pulse, and severe bleeding must be stabilized quickly). Protect the patient and treat for shock for serious injuries. Keep the patient lying down and insulated from the ground, and keep the patient warm. Check for all injuries. Plan and evaluate the rescue given all circumstances. Decide whether self-evacuation or 3rd party rescue agencies are needed. If sending for help, send two of the strongest participants who know how to get back to the starting point to seek help. Give everyone in the group something to do, and leave no one alone. The PSAREP should follow Emergency Contact Procedures and take the procedures list along on the Event. The PSAREP should have emergency contact information provided by participants.
Tips for PSAREPs During an Event.
Constantly watch for hazards during the event. Observe the physical condition and ability of participants. Know the hours of daylight and keep track of weather conditions. Be watchful for hypothermia and ask all participants to watch out for each other for hypothermia signs. In hot weather, watch for heat-related illnesses, and insist on regular drinking of liquids. Be sure there is plenty of water available to each participant. Periodically be sure all participants are accounted for and that all return safely back to their transportation. Be sure that all cars start and cover any plans if there is a stop such as at a restaurant en route home.
If one or more people are lost from the group, the PSAREP should organize a search party in teams, no one alone, and since they may be needed, other participants should not be allowed to leave but to help. After a reasonable search without success, contact a local sheriff’s office, a park ranger’s office, or another search and rescue agency.
Accidents and Reporting. In the case of an accident which requires 3rd party assistance to get back to the starting point of an Event, or to a hospital or medical facility, or an accident results in serious injury or death, great care should be taken in all steps of rescue and evacuation, and in following all emergency procedures provided by 3rd party rescuers and emergency personnel and dictated by good judgment. Less serious accidents might involve first aid treatment within the group, and self-rescue by the group of the injured participant. In all accident cases, whether serious or not, the PSAREP must fill out a First Aid/Accident Report Form and submit it to PSA Headquarters within two weeks of the accident. The PSAREP should make notes sufficient to make an Accident Investigation Report to PSA within 48 hours after the accident, as required by PSA.