EDINBURGH UNIVERSITY HILLWALKING CLUB SAFETY POLICY
Last amended September 2016
It is the policy of EUHWC to provide walks organised by the Club's more experienced members. Any walks taking place without prior approval with the Meet Organiser are not considered EUHWC walks.
1. Responsibilities of the Meet Organiser(s)
- Ensuring that a range of walks of varying difficulty are provided by the Club during a trip;
- Ensuring that the objectives of each group are suitably matched to the general experience of the group members;
- The allocation of and liaison with Walk Organisers and Seconders, ensuring that they are capable of leading groups in the conditions prevalent;
- Providing attendees of the trip with information about weather and snowpack conditions;
- Ensuring that first aid provision is present in all groups;
- Ensuring all walk organisers fill in a route card (see 2.a below) before starting a walk;
- Calling the emergency services if there is reason to believe that a group is in distress or requires to be rescued;
- On sign up night, ensuring that 2 drivers are available per minibus, and one first aid qualified person is available per group.
2. Responsibilities of a Walk Organiser
- Completing a route card that meets with the approval of the Meet Organiser before starting a walk, containing a list of participants and expected time of return, taking into account the general experience of the group and the forecasted conditions.
- Leading discussions regarding the safety of the group on the hill;
- Ensuring somebody is responsible for navigation and route finding at all times, and encouraging all members of the group to take an active role in this, providing assistance where necessary;
- Seeing that all members are properly equipped before a walk, in particular ensuring all members have an ice axe and have fitted crampons to their boots if conditions require;
- Taking the decision to leave behind, at the bus or another safe location, any member of the party whom the Walk Organiser does not think is properly equipped for the chosen walk;
- Ensuring that the group has the minimum group equipment (see 6 below);
- Informing the Meet Organiser immediately on completion of the walk.
- Encouraging the group to work as a team and taking an active role in ensuring every person in the group is comfortable with decisions that are made during the walk.
3. Responsibilities of a Walk Seconder
- Assisting and shadowing the Walk Organiser in all of the above;
- Ensuring that the Walk Organiser is aware of the condition of the group, and informing them if they have any reason to believe a bad decision has been made.
4. Responsibilities of All Walkers
- Coming prepared with the appropriate personal equipment. This includes but is not limited to boots, waterproof jacket and trousers, warm clothing, hat, gloves, water, food, headtorch, rucksack. Failure to do so may result in the member not being allowed on the walk;
- Discussing with the walk organiser at sign up any concerns they have about the suitability of a walk to their ability;
- Informing the Meet Organiser via the online personal details form or at sign-up of any potential health problems;
- Reporting to the walk organisers any problems, worries or difficulties they have at any point on a walk;
- Taking an active role in group discussions and decisions.
5. Group Safety
Walkers should be aware of all hazards that could compromise their safety; this may include but is not limited to adverse weather conditions, steep or difficult terrain, poor visibility, avalanche risk, cornices, exhaustion and nightfall.
The group should make decisions about how to tackle or avoid such hazards, by taking into account the likelihood of an accident occurring, the severity of an accident should it occur, and the experience of the group.
The route, as planned on the route card by the Walk Organiser, should be suitably adapted throughout the day to ensure the safety of the group is not compromised. There may be situations where it is appropriate for the group to split. In such instances the Walk Organiser will be responsible for ensuring every party is suitably experienced and that a rendevoo is arranged.
6. Group Equipment
For any walk, apart from exceptionally short or accessible ones, each group must have the following equipment as a minimum:
- Two Ordnance Survey maps at 1:50 000 or larger scale;
- Two compasses;
- Group Shelter(s) with space for the number of walkers in the group;
- First Aid Kit;
- Sufficient head torches for the group to operate in darkness;
- An emergency mobile phone which should be kept switched off to preserve battery life.
7. Emergency Procedures
In the event of an emergency during a walk:
- The administration of first aid should be prioritised, as long as it does not put other members of the group at risk.
- If the group is able to descend safely without assistance, they should do so and inform the Meet Organiser as soon as possible.
- If assistance is required, the group should determine their exact position on a map and contact mountain rescue by calling 999 or 112.
- If mobile contact is impossible, a party may have to go for help on foot. They should first write down the exact location and nature of the incident.
- At least one person should remain with the casualty at all times and ensure they are as sheltered as possible.
- If other walkers are in the area, their attention should be gained with the Emergency Signal: six blasts on a whistle or six torch flashes, followed by a minute, then repeated.
All members are to be encouraged to take professional training courses to improve their skills in the mountain environment. The Hillwalking Club shall subsidise such trips as it sees fit.
Whilst Walk Organisers and Seconders are not required to have any formal qualifications, it is expected that they will have attended navigation, winter skills and first aid courses. They are also encouraged to log their progress with Mountain Training and gain relevant qualifications as they become more experienced.
Walk Organisers and Seconders should involve all group members in route planning, risk assessment, decision making and navigation, and provide informal instruction where required. This will give less experienced walkers the opportunity to develop their skills on every walk, help to consolidate the skills of Walk Organisers and Seconders, and make groups safer on the hill.