PaddleWise Discussion on Briefing and Leader Check List
From: "Nick Gill"
Subject: [Paddlewise] briefing guide
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 1999 10:42:06 +1100
the NSWSKC is developing an A5 trip briefing guide for trip leaders.It is intended that laminated copies will be produced and trip leaders can use it to guide them through a briefing prior to launching and to make sure they don't forget anything.
Such a briefing has proven to be legally useful in cases involving deaths in adventure activities.
the briefing is largely done but suggestions are welcome.
We are going to put 'useful info' on the back. We have a list of ideas (eg weather forecast ph. numbers). But if you were a trip leader what would you like to see on this back side? Anything you think you might need to jog your memory about tides, navigation, weather or whatever, or something you might need to know in an emergency, or any last minute bit of info you might need to get/call for.
From: Wes Boyd
Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] briefing guide
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 18:52:27
Next of kin? Not trying to be rude, on that, but it is helpful to have an
emergency contact person in case something goes wrong. Now that I think
about it, potential physical problems among the party -- i.e., allergies,
Subject: re: [Paddlewise] briefing guide
Date: Sun, 26 Dec 1999 21:16:48 EST
maybe, instead of 'next of kin', how about 'emergency contacts'? it seems a
good idea to ask for at least two contacts. this may be too much detail, but
insurance numbers/patient numbers are as appropriate as allergies, asthma,
diabetes, esp.for folks enrolled in HMOs. some ERs may not be willing to
treat patients without the info. and remember that all areas do not have 911
speaking from personal experience-
From: Doug Lloyd
Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] briefing guide
Date: Mon, 27 Dec 1999 21:40:45 -0800
I came up with a _Leader Check List_ a couple of years ago for our club. It
was developed for day trips in local Canadian waters. It may be redundant
to what you have or has been suggested on PW since your post, but I'll add
my list just the same and you can take from it what you like:
No boats in water prior to group talk
Safety talk with group must be done at launch site
Leader should pre-qualify requirements prior to arrival
Check list overlaps for marine and inland waters
Secure buoyancy, fore/aft (sealed hatches or float bags)?
Sound hull, deck, and sprayskirt?
Bailer or bilge pump?
Spare paddle, accessible on deck?
Canadian approved lifejacket/pfd of appropriate size/fit?
Immersion suit, or clothing suitable for conditions?
Rain gear, warm change of cloths in waterproof bag?
Head gear (helmet, hat for cold/rain/sun)?
Pogies or paddling gloves?
personal gear, eye glass retainers?
Distress signals (flares, watertight light, signal mirror)?
Sound signaling device (if visibility restricted), whistle?
Survival kit (knife, matches, first aid, etc.)?
Fresh water/drink and snack/emergency rations?
Have you determined everyone can perform a wet exit?
Do you know everyone's name/experience level?
Have you done a head/boat count?
Have you assigned experienced paddlers to novices where needed?
Have you appointed leads and sweeps?
Have you clearly communicated routes, rendezvous, eddy-out instructions?
Do you know water conditions, weather forecasts, tide/currents?
Do you have a method for rewarming a hypothermia victim?
Are there any medical conditions/injury restrictions?
Have you solicited any remaining questions?
Do you know the canadian Coast Guard's minimum standards for group travel?
Additionally, we also came up with a Float Plan. The text below looks odd,
as it is lifted from an official form:
Completion of the form is an essential responsibility
Give a copy to a responsible individual, retain copy for vehicle
Ex[lian extenuating circumstances/delays to above individual
Float plan alterations should be relayed to above individual
Call the Rescue Coordination Centre at 1-800-567-5111 or cellular *311 if
Is this a solo trip? If no, provide details on back (names, kayaks/gear)
Level of experience _Novice _Intermediate _Advanced
Name of paddler (family name) Given names Telephone number Wk
Health Insurance Number Gender _Male _Female Date of Birth
Residential address of paddler
Contact name in case of emergency Telephone number Wk Hm
Is the above contact your next of kin? _Yes _No (If NO, provide
Does the above contact have your float plan? _Yes _No(If NO, provide
Launch site details:
Exact location Will you be returning to launch site? If No, provide details
Your vehicle description Make/Model Colour License Plate Number
Trip Commencement date Intended launch time Intended return date
Brief description of trip (route, layovers/overnight camping areas if
known, alternative plans)
Type of canoe or kayak Make/model/colour Registration number
Special gear/safety equipment (flares, etc)
Communication equipment Call numbers Time of day for radio check
Immersion gear colour of PFD colour of clothing
Food/water supply (maximum number of days you can sustain yourself)
Are you carrying shelter? Are you carrying an emergency locator
Hope some of this is useful. BTW, my 6 year old daughter asked on Boxing
Day if all the candy she was eating was causing her to be hyper. I said
yes. She said did that mean she would get hyperthermia :-)
From: Doug Lloyd
Subject: Re: [Paddlewise] briefing guide
Date: Tue, 28 Dec 1999 11:00:46 -0800
At 10:49 AM 12/28/99 EST, you wrote:
>Doug, do we have your permission to share your checklist wither other
Sure, no problem. Realize that you will need to contextualize it for your
area. In Canadian waters, the Coast Guard cuts us a bit of slack for group
travel in that you are allowed to "share" some items like spare paddles. We
always tell new members to our club that it is still best to be fully
independent; however, the amount of gear required and the cost of all this
stuff is difficult to acquire all at once for some paddlers just getting
into the sport - and that is recognized.
We had a lot of problems on day trips for a couple of years with our local
club. The check list was what came about from a very real need. One hates
to have to hand-hold people and treat them like kids, but human nature
being what it is, people do get lazy with respect to gear and safety. What
we finally had to do was tell people the requirements for a given trip when
they initially phoned or the trip was announced at a club meeting, etc;
then at the launch site, the check list was gone over again. The check list
was also a good tool for the trip facilitator. Laminated and available,
little could be forgotten (the list was done up officially check-box
style). We had a lot of newer paddlers leading trips who not always knew
all the items to go over and consider, so it was a useful prompt for anyone
we could "sucker" into organizing a trip (these were low-risk trips, with
the newer leaders)!
One regular trip leader/facilitator didn't like to turn people away, so
carried spares of everything in his van - like pogies, PFD's (!), etc. HE
has a lot more patience than ME. The other issue we are dealing with is
certification, now that we finally have a national sea kayak program (CRCA)
in Canada. It is a thorny issue indeed. I do know of a case last year where
a group was out in windy conditions in freezing weather. One lady had BS'ed
her way into the trip. My friend had let her come along at the launch site,
despite her lack of immersion gear when she arrived, based on her
self-assessment that she was a highly experienced paddler. She went over in
the freezing water almost right away. (Our winter humidity is so high, 32
degrees (F.) seems like 0, and permeates every pour right into one's
bones). She didn't have a good brace. She was too cold to even paddle once
back in the kayak. Fortunately, a cabin nearby was occupied and the owners
provided a hot bath. The club finally said participants MUST have required
gear or NO GO. Remember, on club trips there are liability concerns.
In another incident, a lady paddler launched early on an inside lagoon
drainage passage that was in flood stage. We were all preparing to launch
on the ocean side of the sand neck. I assumed everyone knew that, as the
passage was river-like and one would have to paddle against the stream. We
noticed the lady missing. Her husband ran to the top of the neck, then
bolted for the water. His wife had launched, got taken up-stream by the
inward flow, had capsized under a bridge where logs were piling up against
the supports. She was trapped partially under her kayak and the log. It was
a scary moment, and our club's sea kayak program convener (also
affectionately known as the "safety-bitch") had a mouthful for me later, as
I was leading the trip. I had done the check list at the parking lot at the
club where we all met, as the trip was weather dependent and the central
location of the club house gave us an advantage with respect to various
options. I didn't make the same mistake again. No one launches, until we
are at the put-in, and the talk has been done - unless it is a small group
of known quantity, then we are pretty slack.
We have another "club" in town, called a "network" with no rules per se, so
those looking for some action with other paddlers, but are put off by
rules, etc, do have another venue. Self-responsibility is always the
preferred attitude, but the 10% necessitates some kind of censure.
Obviously, there is a balance in all this somewhere.
I have to add, that for me, all the items on the list (and you can add
more) are simply common sense. I take a lot of chances solo paddling (a
risk vs reward thing) and expect a lot out of my friends on planned
expeditions, but when it comes to club paddles, I've gotten totally anal
about safety and ensuring people's first experiences are fun and enjoyable
With warm regards and season's greetings,