31 July, 2005

How Low The Mighty...

This is just disturbing to me.

Their motto is: "Be prepared." But as the disaster-riddled National Boy Scout Jamboree carries on following five deaths and hundreds of heat-related illnesses, event planners from across the country are wondering just how prepared the Scouts were.

Listen, I was a Scout for many a year. My father was a Scout. My grandfather was a Scout. And when/if I have a son, I'd encourage him to be a Scout as well. Scouting taught me more than both parents combined. Yet hearing about the Jamboree this summer is just making me shake my head in confusion.

Exhibit A, the location of the tent:
On Monday, four Scout leaders were electrocuted in front of several Scouts after they lost control of the towering metal pole at the center of a large, white dining tent, sending it toppling into nearby power lines.
Who the hell forgot to pack their brain? That's part of the basic safety rules, if I remember right, listed in the Boy Scouts Handbook. (It's been a while since I had my old handbook, and they might have taken that part out in later editions.) I hope that at least one person that was setting up the tent had the forethought to simply look up and make sure nothing would be getting in the way. This could easily have been avoided, and if there isn't a massive investigation into this I'm turning in my merit badge.

Exhibit B:
On Wednesday, 40,000 Scouting enthusiasts waited hours in the stifling heat for an appearance by President Bush, who ended up postponing his visit due to the threat of severe thunderstorms. Sun-sick Scouts began collapsing and more than 300 people were treated for heat-related illnesses.
Again, simple lack of brain. Everyone, man and boy alike, in that crowd should know the most common cause of heat stroke and dehydration by now: exposure to the sun over long periods of time. Admittedly, they couldn't do anything about the length of time, due to the Secret Service's rules about Presidential visits, but they could have prepared for high-heat, high-humidity conditions. Even passing out chilled water bottles would have helped immensely with the problem.

Now, I wasn't there, so I don't know for certain what they did or did not do to prevent this. But 300+ Scouts (adult or boy, they are all Scouts in my mind) needing medical treatment is too many by far, even allowing for the possibility of pre-existing medical conditions. Allowing for that, I wouldn't blink if it was between 25 and 50. But this is too much.

And for those that are saying that it was just an accident, this is an accident. Don't confuse the two. The tragic hike in the Sequoia National Park was an accident. The tragic events at the Jamboree were, to the highest degree, preventable.

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