Incident Response

Risk management is not built on a list of rules, but rather on good judgment and a willingness to accept responsibility for one's own safety and that of others. Incident response is what happens when an injury or illness has occurred during a trek and a group must decide how to handle it.

Accounts of injuries and illnesses in the outdoors often try to pinpoint a specific cause. Hypothermia, for example, often is blamed on chilly weather, cotton clothing, and precipitation. Of course, the steps that led to poorly dressed travelers shivering in the rain can be traced back to decisions that might easily have prevented that dangerous situation from occurring at all. With qualified leadership, personal responsibility, and effective planning, those travelers would have had warm clothing and rain gear. They would have been well-hydrated and have had energy food in their packs. They would have kept an eye on the weather and made timely decisions about where to go, when to camp, and whether to turn around and go home.

The following pages discuss ways to prepare for and manage certain risks, and also the basics of how groups can respond to incidents brought about by these concerns.