Emergency Response and Rescue Guidelines for Remote Silviculture Camps

Purpose: The purpose of this discussion paper is to attract some advice from silviculture contractors on establishing appropriate guidelines for emergency response planning for silviculture work camps.

emergency prep draft.doc

We are looking for comments on equipment, resources, practices and procedures to assist forestry contracting companies in developing adequate emergency response abilities for major accidents and rescues as required by due diligence and their health and safety plans. The end result will be a set of guidelines or industry recommended practices that could be requirements for the silviculture work camp standards being contemplated for the prequalification criteria of the BC Safe Silviculture Certification of Recognition Program.

Setting the scene:

There are no reliable statistics on the number of silviculture camps operating during a typical silviculture field season in British Columbia. The best information estimates there are approximately 6000 workers in the field during the spring and summer. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some contractors have moved away from operating camps due to costs and effort involved. (One consequence of this trend is that workers may spend more time travelling to and from work increasing their exposure to vehicle accidents. Another consequence is the possible dissolution of crew morale and unity when workers are in town along with all its attendant distractions.)

Nevertheless, a substantial number of silviculture camps operate across the province, often in remote settings, well outside of municipal boundaries and well away from rescue and emergency resources. These camps may have a first aid attendant and the required F.A. equipment along with an emergency evacuation plan. However, in the case of a dire mishap, like workers trapped in a vehicle underwater or over a road bank, work camps may not have the equipment or the procedures in place to manage a life or death rescue. Obviously in these circumstances in town resources are of little use in the immediate and critical aftermath. Therefore it is prudent and diligent for silviculture work camp operators and their crews to increase their preparation and self-reliance in this area.

This preparation does not necessarily mean a huge increase in costs and equipment. Many of the resources, both mechanical and in person, may exist already in most competent silviculture camps. It may be just a question of organizing and rehearsing the assets in place and establishing supporting contacts with other local resources.

Given recent reports of tree planting resources being put to use in critical rescues and responses to injured mountainbikers and hikers this should be our goal; to make treeplanting camps rescue assets in remote locations rather than liablities.