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Preparing for Emergencies

As we all know, emergencies can happen. Girls need to receive proper instruction in how to care for themselves and others in emergencies. They also need to learn the importance of reporting to adults any accidents, illnesses or unusual behaviors during Girl Scout activities. The following links provide details on each of these important topics.

Insurance

Girl Scout activity insurance

Every registered Girl Scout and registered adult member in the Girl Scout movement is automatically covered under the basic Mutual of Omaha Activity Insurance plan upon registration. The entire premium cost for this protection is borne by Girl Scouts of the USA, and the basic plan is effective during the regular fiscal year (October 1 to the following October 1). Up to 14 months of insurance coverage is provided for new members who register in the month of August.

This insurance provides up to a specified maximum for medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident while a member is participating in an approved, supervised Girl Scout activity. This is one reason why all adults and girls should be registered members. It is important to remember that non-registered parents, tagalongs (brothers, sisters and friends) and other persons are not covered by the basic plan.

This insurance coverage is not intended to diminish the need for, or replace existing, family health insurance. When $130 in benefits has been paid under this plan for covered expenses, any subsequent benefits from the basic plan will be payable (up to the specified maximum) only for expenses incurred that aren’t covered under another insurance policy. If there is no family insurance or healthcare program, a specified maximum of medical benefits is available under the basic plan.

An optional Activity Insurance plan is available for Girl Scouts taking extended trips (longer than three days and two nights) and for non-members who participate in Girl Scout activities. These optional plans are secondary insurance that a council may offer to cover participants taking part in any council-approved, supervised Girl Scout activity.

What insurance do I need for my activity?

Activity insurance enrollment

Mutual of Omaha provides supplemental accident insurance for registered Girl Scouts attending day or overnight events, and for non-members who may be invited to certain events. To determine if additional insurance is needed for your event, please review the information sheet above. Enrollment forms are linked there.

There is a minimum of $5 to purchase additional insurance. Email the form with credit card info to accountspayable@sdgirlscouts.org or mail the completed form and check (payable to Girl Scouts San Diego) to:

Girl Scouts San Diego
Additional Insurance Request
1231 Upas St.
San Diego, CA 92103

Your form and payment must be turned into Girl Scouts San Diego at least ten (10) days prior to your event. Forms not received in a timely manner will not be processed and the event will not be covered under Mutual of Omaha’s additional insurance.

Insurance Claim Forms:

Keep an Accident/Incident Report forms at troop meetings and program events in case an accident occurs. Fill out the form immediately and follow the instructions at Reporting Accidents and Abuse.

Fill the form out immediately and send it to accidentreporting@sdgirlscouts.org or mail it to 1231 Upas St. San Diego, CA 92103.

For more information, review the insurance plan descriptions here (link to flow chart). Contact training@sdgirlscouts.org with questions.

Note: for a list of vendors or venues with insurance certificates on file with us, see Finding an Expert.


First Aid

First Aid/CPR

Emergencies require prompt action and quick judgment. For many activities, Girl Scouts recommends that at least one adult volunteer be first-aid/CPR-certified. For that reason, if you have the opportunity to get trained in council-approved first aid/CPR, do it! You can take advantage of first aid/CPR training offered by chapters of the American Red Cross, National Safety Council, EMP America, American Heart Association, American Safety and Health Institute or other sponsoring organizations approved by your council.

For your convenience, Girl Scouts San Diego provides frequent, low-cost first aid/CPR/AED training at various locations. Register.

Caution: First-aid/CPR training that is available entirely online does not satisfy Girl Scouts’ requirements. Such courses do not offer enough opportunities to practice and receive feedback on your technique. If you’re taking a course not offered by one of the organizations listed above, or any course that has online components, get approval from your support team or Girl Scouts San Diego council prior to enrolling in the course at training@sdgirlscouts.org.

First-aider

A first-aider is an adult volunteer who has taken Girl Scout-approved first-aid and CPR training that includes specific instructions for child CPR.

The Safety Activity Checkpoints always tell you when a first-aider needs to be present. Girl Scouts San Diego expects that a first aider be present at all meetings and outings.

Since activities can take place in a variety of locations, the presence of a first-aider and the qualifications they need to have are based on the remoteness of the activity. For example, if you take a two-mile hike in an area that has cell phone reception and service along the entire route and EMS (Emergency Medical Services) is no more than 30 minutes away at all times the first-aider will not need to have knowledge of wilderness first aid. If, on the other hand, you take the same two-mile hike in a more remote area with no cell phone service and where EMS is more than 30 minutes away, the first-aider must have knowledge of wilderness first aid (see the chart below).

 Access to EMS

Minimum Level of First Aid Required

Less than 30 minutes

First Aid/CPR

More than 30 minutes

Wilderness First Aid (WFA) or Wilderness First Responder (WSR)*

*Although a WFR is not required, it is strongly recommended when traveling with groups in areas that are greater than 30 minutes from EMS.

It is important to understand the differences between a first-aid course, and a wilderness rated course. Although standard first-aid training provides basic incident response, wilderness-rated courses include training on remote-assessment skills, as well as emergency first-aid response, including evacuation techniques, to use when EMS is not readily available.

Note: The presence of a first-aider is required at resident camp. For large events—200 people or more—there should be one first-aider for every 200 participants.

The following healthcare providers may also serve as first-aiders: physician; physician’s assistant; nurse practitioner; registered nurse; licensed practical nurse; paramedic; military medic; and emergency medical technician.

First Aid kits

Be prepared! A first aid kit should be kept handy at every Girl Scout meeting or event. First aid kits come in many shapes and sizes. You can purchase one from the Red Cross Store, another online source, or a local drug store. Girl Scouts may make their own with adult guidance. Here’s a printable FIRST AID KIT shopping list!

Whether you buy a first aid kit or put one together, make sure it has all the items you may need:

  • Include any personal items such as medications and emergency phone numbers
  • Restock the kit after each use
  • Check the flashlight batteries when you set your clocks for Daylight Savings
  • Check expiration dates and replace any used or out-of-date contents

Suggested contents for a 10-person troop:

  • 2 absorbent compress dressings (5 x 9 inches)
  • 50 adhesive bandages (assorted sizes)
  • 1 adhesive cloth tape (10 yards x 1 inch)
  • 10 antiseptic wipe packets
  • Small bottle of hand sanitizer
  • 1 mylar space blanket
  • 1 breathing barrier (with one-way valve)
  • 2 instant cold compresses
  • 8 pair of non-latex gloves (size: large)
  • 1 small pair of scissors
  • 2 sheets of moleskin (3 inch squares)
  • 2 roller bandage (3 inches wide)
  • 1 roller bandage (4 inches wide)
  • 10 sterile gauze pads (3 x 3 inches)
  • 10 sterile gauze pads (4 x 4 inches)
  • Oral thermometer (non-mercury/non-glass)
  • 2 triangular bandages
  • Tweezers
  • Whistle
  • 2 packets of honey (fast-food type, for hypoglycemia)
  • 1 roll of toilet paper
  • 4 maxi pads
  • Zip-close bags (2 quart, 2 gallon)
  • Safety pins
  • Small roll of duct tape
  • Small, sealed bottle of sterile water (to use as eyewash or any purpose)
  • Sunscreen
  • First aid instruction booklet
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Parent permission is required for the following:
    • 2 hydrocortisone ointment packets (approximately 1 gram each)
    • 5 antibiotic ointment packets (approximately 1 gram)
    • 10 packets of acetaminophen and/or ibuprofen (in appropriate dose)
    • Small bottle liquid Benadryl

May be carried in separate binder, but do keep these handy:

Note that some commercial first aid kits include medications, which you will not be at liberty to give to girls without written parent/guardian permission.

Health histories

Note: Girl Scout councils handle these records differently across the country.

At Girl Scouts San Diego, health history records are completed and updated annually for both girls and adult members. Troop leaders collect and store the records. Health histories of participants are given to first aiders during Girl Scout events or activities, and then returned to troop leaders following the event.

Examinations

A physician’s examination is highly encouraged for Girls Scouts San Diego sponsored resident camp and may also be required for travel, high adventure or extended camping trips. Other information, such as specific food allergies, or permission to dispense over-the-counter medicine, may be collected for day-long or overnight trips. Either way, keep in mind that information contained in a girl’s health history is confidential and protected by law. This information may only be shared with people who have a need to know this information such as the girl herself, her parent/guardian and a healthcare provider.

Immunizations

Effective January 1, 2016, new California law SB 277 states that exemptions based on personal beliefs will no longer be an option for the vaccines that are currently required for entry into child care or school in California. Most families will not be affected by the new law because their children have received all required vaccinations.

Properly completed personal beliefs exemptions on file for a child already attending child care or school in California will remain valid until the child reaches the next immunization checkpoint at kindergarten (including transitional kindergarten) or 7th grade. Personal belief exemptions filed from another state or country are not valid if student is transferring to a California school after January 1, 2016. Properly completed medical exemptions for immunizations will be allowed for students when they have been issued by a licensed physician. For more information about SB 277, see the Frequently Asked Questions available at: http://www.shotsforschool.org/laws/sb277faq/.

For more information about school immunization requirements and resources, visit the California Department of Public Health’s website at www.shotsforschool.org, or contact your local health department or county office of education.

Allergies and medications

It is important for you to be aware of any medications a girl may take or allergies she may have. Keep in mind the following:

  • Medication, including over-the-counter products, must never be dispensed without prior written permission from a girl’s custodial parent or guardian (your council can provide the necessary form). Permission to give over-the-counter medication forms are available at www.sdgirlscouts.org/forms.  

  • Some girls may need to carry and administer their own medications, such as bronchial inhalers, EpiPens or diabetes medication. You must have documentation from the girl’s parent or guardian that it is acceptable for the girl to self-administer these medications.  

  • Common food allergies include dairy products, eggs, soy, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts and seafood. This means that before serving any food (such as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies or chips), ask whether anyone is allergic to peanuts, dairy products or wheat. Do this even if you are aware of which girls have specific 15 allergies! Even Girl Scout Daisies and Brownies should be aware of their allergies, but double-checking with them and their parents/guardians is always a good idea.


Safety management

Developing a safety management plan

As you know, emergencies can happen. Volunteers and girls need to know how to care for themselves and others in an emergency. They also need to know what to do after an incident. A Safety Management Plan (SMP), sometimes called an Emergency Action Plan (EAP), is a written plan that guides and communicates identification, prevention and response to emergencies.

As an event or outing leader, it’s your responsibility to develop this plan and instruct participants. When you attend an outing or event planned by someone else, be sure to learn about the plans they’ve made, and share them with your girls and volunteers as appropriate.

Use the Safety Management Plan for Troop Activities as a template for this process. You can ignore irrelevant sections, and add other topics as necessary.

Be prepared to share your SMP with your activity consultant when requesting approval for complicated or high-risk activities (those requiring approval).

For guidance on SMPs for large events, see Directing Girl Scout Events and Series.

For assistance in developing your plans, contact your activity consultant or training@sdgirlscouts.org.

Emergency procedures
What to do if there's an accident

Although you hope the worst never happens, you must observe council procedures for handling accidents and fatalities. At the scene of an accident, first provide all possible care for the injured person.

Follow established council procedures for obtaining medical assistance and immediately reporting the emergency. To do this, you must always have on hand the names and telephone numbers of council staff, parents/guardians and emergency services such as the police, fire department or hospital. Use this printable Emergency Action Plan Card.

 In a life-threatening emergency, call 911

  • If a person needs emergency medical care as the result of an accident or injury, first contact emergency medical services, and then follow Girl Scouts San Diego procedures.
  • Administer first aid.
  • Call for appropriate help (police, fire department or medical). Always notify police about motor vehicle accidents, serious accidents or fatalities
  • Refer to the EMERGENCY ACTION PLAN CARD.
  • During business hours Monday – Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., call the office at (619) 298-8391 or (800) 643-4798.
  • After business hours call the office and press “2” when prompted to be directed to our after-hours services. A phone message will provide clear instructions on how to reach emergency phone service with on-call council staff.
  • Girl Scouts San Diego council staff will immediately arrange for additional assistance at the scene, if needed, and will notify parents/guardians as appropriate.
  • Move non-injured persons away from the scene as appropriate. Keep other girls safe and occupied.
  • Assign a responsible adult to remain at the scene.
  • Permit no one to disturb victim or surroundings until appropriate authority assumes responsibility.
  • Do not share information about the accident with anyone but the police, your council, and authorities.
  • Refer any media inquires to the director of communications. See “Handling Media” below.
  • Submit an ACCIDENT/INCIDENT REPORT FORM according to the instructions on the form to Girl Scouts San Diego within 24 hours.
  • EMERGENCY CARD
Handling media

Reporters will often contact Girl Scout volunteers directly regarding controversial or catastrophic situations. It is very important that only officially designated spokespersons respond. When questioned by media representatives:

  • Indicate as pleasantly as possible that you are only acquainted with one facet of the problem and would prefer that the reporter speak to the council spokesperson that can provide more complete and accurate information.
  • Never speak “off the record” or speculate.
  • Refer the reporter to the director of communications at the Girl Scout San Diego office (619) 298-8391.
  • Report your conversation with the reporter to the director of communications as soon as possible.

In the event of a fatality or other serious accident, the police must be notified and a responsible adult must remain at the scene at all times. In the case of a fatality, do not disturb the victim or surroundings and follow police instructions. Do not share information about the accident with anyone but the police, your council and, if applicable, insurance representatives or legal counsel.

Minor accidents or illness

In the event of a minor accident or illness, the first-aider should provide first-aid attention. If the adult in charge and the first-aider decide that further medical attention is necessary, they should call the parents/guardians. Most parents prefer to take the child for medical treatment themselves. If you must take a child to a medical facility, be sure that the remaining girls have adequate supervision. Bring the child’s permission slip plus health history. Report all animal bites to your county health department.

Water safety

Learn troop water safety tips in a recorded webinar, and find helpful resources, too. Log onto your Litmos online learning portal and choose the "Water Safety Tips for Girl Scout Troops" course from the library. If you’re new to Litmos, sign up and use the code “GSSWIMMERS” to access the course.

To request a list of lifeguards or canoeing instructors, contact us.

Reporting accidents or abuse
Report accidents

Any accident that might require medical help or requires more than a band-aid must be reported on the first working day after the accident, by phone, fax or delivering the report form. Please remember to be objective and accurate with information on the form. The accident report might be involved in legal action.

The same form is used to report significant illness or allergic reactions, accidents or emergencies that did not result in injury, and other incidents. See the form for descriptions.

In the event of any of these accidents or incidents, fill the form out immediately and send it to accidentreporting@sdgirlscouts.org or mail it to

Accident Reporting
Girl Scouts San Diego
1231 Upas St.
San Diego, CA 92103.

After an accident is reported, Girl Scouts San Diego council staff will send a letter, instructions on how to file a claim and a claim form to the injured party. The injured girl’s parent/guardian or injured adult must fill out the claim form and return as instructed in the letter. Girl Scouts San Diego council staff will verify the report and submit it to Mutual of Omaha for processing. The coverage is supplemental to the injured person’s own health insurance.

Reporting abuse

Sexual advances, improper touching, and sexual activity of any kind with girl members are forbidden. Physical, verbal and emotional abuse of girls is also forbidden. All states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands have statues identifying persons who are required to report suspected child abuse to an appropriate agency. Therefore, if you witness or suspect child abuse or neglect, whether inside or outside of Girl Scouting, follow your council’s guidelines for reporting your concerns to the proper agency within your state. For additional information, please check the following resources: