I recently read an article where a group of college students who were cave explorers accidentally left one of their explorers locked in a cave for 60 hours. Really???
Not only is this young explorer lucky to be alive, it was completely avoidable based on some very basic safety measures that need to be in place 100% of the time when you are managing teams.
One of the reasons that there needs to be a check off chart at every stop is so that we can make sure that every athlete has passed through that section. If the Trail Driver has to go back and find someone on a trail or in a very desolate area, they have a much smaller place to have to search for them. Lots of things can happen in endurance events, and they DO happen.
Creating those strategies in advance is crucial:
- How are you going to get someone out if it’s nasty weather? Rain and wind can be incredibly difficult to get a vehicle through.
- How are you going to hook an injured athlete up on a trail bike and possibly drag them 15 miles, without further injuring them?
- How do you manage trail first aid for broken limbs?
The list can go on for days, because there are MANY freak accidents in endurance events and training.
I have had other Trail Drivers push back and let me know that I am a worry wart, that there are too many details that I put into trail driving, but my response back is that we have never lost an athlete, or had an athlete not get off that course with all the limbs they started with. Safety and planning is not an afterthought, it is a tool that allows everyone the chance to play again tomorrow.
As for the adventurer who was lost and locked in to the cave, I completely understand his position (from an interview where he said that he is lucky to be alive), and that he will NOT be exploring caves ever again.
It would be a shame to have talented athletes choose to no longer compete because their safety was not managed appropriately.
Prepare every athlete to check off at every stop so that the Trail Driver knows who they are, and where they are. Plus, it will also help them track their time and have a nice snack in the shade.