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Thread: HQ Job Cuts

  1. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    Didn't have strength for what reason?

    Because his bike was unsuitable for him? Then he shouldn't have been riding it, and a "check night" at the hut before a large expedition would have identified that, or if they were hire bikes some checks at pickup.

    Because he was injured? Then he shouldn't have been riding.

    Because he had a disability? Then he should have been riding a suitably adapted bike.

    I'm sorry, but that was entirely foreseeable and avoidable - even more so than what happened on the Orme.

    I would expect a written RA for a bicycle expedition to include the issue of unsuitable bikes and how that would be checked and if necessary resolved.
    Hold on a second.

    He's a standard kid (mostly), it was a standard bike. We did all that stuff. I did say we massively over-compensated. We were a good five miles in when it happened. he'd struggled to get up some hills, but until that point had no issues with any of the equipment or cycling generally. His was a personal physical limitation. I have many skills, but the ability to see into, and evaluate muscle mass in the hands of adolescents is not one of them.

    This is exactly what I'm talking about. We all have different levels. I would also suggest, you weren't there - so to be so judgemental - with the benefit of hindsight - is easy pickings.

    We checked his bike after we fished him and it out the bush - there was nothing wrong with it. We could see it unfolding, he was approaching a decline and did not slow down for it, then he panicked. We could see him squeezing the brakes, but he also tried to put his feet down. We assumed he thought that would be more effective than the bike's disc brakes.

    It wasn't. And having a written RA in a folder in my van would have made no difference either.

    What did make the difference - given that was the only problem we had... Was our ratios (one leader for every four kids). That we had YL's one-on-one with kids who we knew weren't confident. That we had two St Andrew's First responders. A Policeman and member of the Coast Guard along. Plus two very experienced mountain bikers. All leaders had radios. I checked mobile phone signal and vehicular access in advance. And I did an extensive leader briefing before setting off.

    All that stuff you said was foreseeable? Sure. It was foreseeable in the same way a fish jumping out of the loch and knocking someone of their bike would be foreseeable. I would also suggest, even if we knew in advance the order of minute details which would have this kid in a panic then in a bush - do we just tell him he can't go? Are we not supposed to be challenging the kids? Getting them out of their comfort zones?

    Will our library of RA's also be an excuse for kids to stay safe at home lest they end up in some shrubbery?

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    I'm sorry, but "ensure the equipment is suitable for its users" rather than assuming it is the most basic thing you do on any adventurous or similar activity.

    You did many things right (indeed in excess of what would be needed by a sensible RA) but it doesn't remove the fact that you clearly missed a trick and should admit that to yourself to prevent another occurrence.

    We are not perfect and we often do miss things even in a written RA, so how will you avoid this happening again, either with that or another YP?
    Last edited by Neil Williams; 10-02-2020 at 11:31 AM.

  3. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    I'm sorry, but "ensure the equipment is suitable for its users" rather than assuming it is the most basic thing you do on any adventurous or similar activity.

    You did many things right (indeed in excess of what would be needed by a sensible RA) but it doesn't remove the fact that you clearly missed a trick and should admit that to yourself to prevent another occurrence.

    We are not perfect and we often do miss things even in a written RA, so how will you avoid this happening again, either with that or another YP?
    No. I don't accept it.

    The equipment was suitable. He is a kid, it was a bike. We checked everything that was reasonable to check.

    The only way it could have been avoided was if we could tell the future and were prepared to tell him he couldn't go, because he'd end up in a bush.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    I have a question, a general question.

    My problem with this, isn't necessarily the time it would take, (although I do have questions about the practicality of it - what exactly to you do an RA on, would it be the whole camp, each activity you're doing, free time, cooking, kids going to the toilet in groups? (That last one is surprisingly high risk...)

    Last year, we went away for the weekend at Easter. We had a day cycling round Loch Katrine. Maybe it's me, but the risk assessment for that activity - if it where to cover everything I can think of - would be vast.

    However, the only mildly ropey thing that happened was, one of the kids didn't have the strength in his hands to operate the brakes on his bike (he was also carrying quite a lot of inertia, if you see what I mean), so he ended up in a bush. There were no injuries (fortunately), but how could a written RA have stopped or assuaged that?

    I can attest, that activity was as safe as it could be. We massively overcompensated. A written RA would have made no difference what-so-ever. That kid was going in that bush regardless.

    Risk is so subjective. I usually over-compensate, but I appreciate others might not, or may not have had the experience, so would have benefited from having them. My question is, how do you decide when to do them and on the granularity of them? And given the subjective nature of risk, since we'd all be doing them differently and at different levels, how would that help the organisation as a whole if you end up being mentioned in a coroners report?
    when i have taken scout mountain biking abroad the MTB instructors take them into the car park or similar and get them to cycle around, brake, go through cones etc. they then break the kids off into groups according to ability (or lack of it) as they increase the test of their skills over 10 minutes or so. . A child who could not brake would be weeded out at that point and would not be allowed on the trails (or a better bike found).

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    No. I don't accept it.

    The equipment was suitable. He is a kid, it was a bike. We checked everything that was reasonable to check.
    The equipment was unsuitable, because he did not have the strength to properly operate the controls, based on what you are reporting.

    The only way it could have been avoided was if we could tell the future and were prepared to tell him he couldn't go, because he'd end up in a bush.
    If there was no suitable equipment for him and none could be obtained then he should indeed not have taken part. No different from if the only available bike was too small or too large, or if, to use another example, a climbing harness did not fit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by big chris View Post
    when i have taken scout mountain biking abroad the MTB instructors take them into the car park or similar and get them to cycle around, brake, go through cones etc. they then break the kids off into groups according to ability (or lack of it) as they increase the test of their skills over 10 minutes or so. . A child who could not brake would be weeded out at that point and would not be allowed on the trails (or a better bike found).
    We had them cycle round the car park (which they were doing anyway). Our two mountain bikers went over the bikes, a lot of the kids knew what they were doing anyway. We were on tarmac 100% of the time, no trails. The route in places was hilly, but mostly gentle.

    We had two kids who were obviously nervous, so adult leaders took turns cycling with them. However, one was falling back to the extent that we had to stop the main group and let him and some other go forward to get a headstart. I well remember what it was like always playing catch up at Scouts. As soon as you did, off they'd go again, leaving you to catch up. Psychologically, it was soul-destroying.

    The first thing that kid did when we got back to the car park was text his mum to say he did it. We knew he was nervous, (we asked about experience in advance). But we didn't realise how nervous he'd been about it. If we'd known he'd end up in that bush - and not being entirely sure of how we could avoid it - and told him because there was a risk, he couldn't take part - he would have missed that sense of achievement completely. He obviously felt very proud of himself, and good on him too. Sometimes we have kids that really need that kind of lift.

    We had another lad who'd never been on a bike before. That wasn't mentioned advance either. But he got on alright. He avoided all bushes.

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    It can go the other way. We had an afternoon out on hired mountain bikes - all the pre take off ride around, sizes checked, adjustments made, checked again. Same with helmets. Off we went - down a nice scenic ex railway path. Someone stops suddenly in front of my son, he goes on instinct and throws everything he's got on the brakes. Of course in the heat of the moment he's forgotten the warning and the practice rides, and has reacted as he normally does on his relatively slow acting rim braked bike at home. Only this is a very well specced and maintained bike with disc brakes, and with all that pull on it, it stops literally dead, front wheel digs in and before he even realises it, he's over the handle bars and lying on the ground very grateful that his helmet fitted well. (The good thing was it stopped so smartly there was space between him and the bike in front to land in so he didn't take them out as well)

    In short, you can do everything you can think of, but in the heat of the moment, you never know. But he was OK, finished the ride and now has a different approach to braking distances!
    Does anyone know what's going on?

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  10. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    I'm sorry, but "ensure the equipment is suitable for its users" rather than assuming it is the most basic thing you do on any adventurous or similar activity.

    You did many things right (indeed in excess of what would be needed by a sensible RA) but it doesn't remove the fact that you clearly missed a trick and should admit that to yourself to prevent another occurrence.

    We are not perfect and we often do miss things even in a written RA, so how will you avoid this happening again, either with that or another YP?

    Ah, we make assumptions. We all do. We cannot cover every base.

    Okay - so I ask a bunch of Scouts - can you ride a bike? They answer in the affirmative. I have no reason to question the veracity of their answer.

    We are going for a bike ride on VERY level terrain. Bikes hired, route planned, everything set. One individual gets on the bike, cycles 100 metres and slaps it. gets back on, slaps it again, and again. Turns out that she cannot ride a bike - yet she told us she could and her parent said that she could. ... Well, by the time we got back from a round trip of 38Km, she could ride a bike - sort of... Had we done an RA when we discovered that she couldn't ride a bike, she could not have continued and two adults would have had to stay back and look after her, which then put our ratio for the whole trip out of kilter. So, she learned to ride a bike - after a fashion.

    My old school mindset was - you said that you could ride a bike so you dashed well will... She was chaperoned the full length of the trip by to adults who made sure that she didn't fall into the canal... but we were taken by surprise on the 37th km when going in a straight line, with no obstacles and no other cyclists around, she just flopped over into a bed of nettles... (No, we didn't laugh at the time).
    Ewan Scott

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    By the eay... by written RA... Locally we hold them all on a spreadsheet on a server accessible to the leaders of the district where they can be downloaded modified reviewed and held on mobile phones. People don't literally sit down down and hand write them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    By the eay... by written RA... Locally we hold them all on a spreadsheet on a server accessible to the leaders of the district where they can be downloaded modified reviewed and held on mobile phones. People don't literally sit down down and hand write them.
    And I would lay money on people not bothering to read them. Cynical me.

    Do I read the RA every time we do archery? or Shooting? or Kayaking or... nope, and I bet hardly anyone does.

    I loathe the term risk assessment - it is a backside covering excercise that hardly anyone pays any real attention to. I really, really loathe it. It breeds complacency. Everywhere it is flaunted, it is by those who want to tick management boxes. Teachers turn up at campsites and ask for the RA for pitching a tent... Nope, if you want one, get your own.

    On the ground, in what we do, in how people work, the far more important criteria is the Method of Operation - THIS is what we do and THIS is how we do it. A review might be useful from time to time, but the MoO is critical to how we do things safely.

    If you were to take a bunch of volunteers and say, okay, I want you to establish a risk assessment for X, there would be a varied response from the detailed and considered assessment to a vague, it looks dangerous so we won't do it type of approach. If, on the other hand, you take those same volunteers and say, okay, this is how you lay out activity X, and this is how you do it, this time, the next time, every time. Then they learn that THIS is how to be safe.

    The corollary of that is that this is how we teach people to drive and the roads are full of complete ****wits most of the time...
    Ewan Scott

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  14. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    The equipment was unsuitable, because he did not have the strength to properly operate the controls, based on what you are reporting.


    If there was no suitable equipment for him and none could be obtained then he should indeed not have taken part. No different from if the only available bike was too small or too large, or if, to use another example, a climbing harness did not fit.
    I disagree with both.

    The equipment was a bike, he was a child. How can we possibly tell in advance - all things being equal, his fingers were not made from spaghetti - that he wouldn't be able to operate the brakes, or did not know that he had to pull them at a certain pressure for them to work, and that him thinking putting his feet down would work better.

    He's isn't (and wasn't) abnormal. He said he was squeezing the levers as hard as he could. Since it took a bush to finally slow him down, we either assumed his hands were not strong enough (which is something I don't think we could reasonably foresee, given he is/was a normal kid and it was a normal bike on which everything had been working seemingly up to that point.)

    There are some things you cannot foresee. If you adopted the kind of mindset required to foresee something like this, A) you wouldn't be on camp because you wouldn't be a leader in the first place and B) you'd have some sort of weird super power.

    How do you even measure a child's grip? And as Ewan points out, if we waited until we arrived at the car park and found out then that he couldn't work the brakes (although he was operating the brakes fine until he met the bush), the entire bike ride would need to have been cancelled because it would have knocked our ratios out of kilter.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    By the eay... by written RA... Locally we hold them all on a spreadsheet on a server accessible to the leaders of the district where they can be downloaded modified reviewed and held on mobile phones. People don't literally sit down down and hand write them.
    This is actually the way it should be done. But having them on mobile phones - I don't the point going to that length.

    I think you end up doing what HQ did by setting standards that not everyone will be meet but to which we will all be held.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    How do you even measure a child's grip? And as Ewan points out, if we waited until we arrived at the car park and found out then that he couldn't work the brakes (although he was operating the brakes fine until he met the bush), the entire bike ride would need to have been cancelled because it would have knocked our ratios out of kilter.
    I'm going to agree to disagree on the other parts - but not on this part - we should ALWAYS be willing to modify or cancel an activity if it would be unsafe for even one participant if that's the only option to remove that participant from it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    I'm going to agree to disagree on the other parts - but not on this part - we should ALWAYS be willing to modify or cancel an activity if it would be unsafe for even one participant if that's the only option to remove that participant from it.
    Modify. Teach them. Support them. Do our best to make the activity accessible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    I'm going to agree to disagree on the other parts - but not on this part - we should ALWAYS be willing to modify or cancel an activity if it would be unsafe for even one participant if that's the only option to remove that participant from it.
    I don't necessarily disagree with that, but it's often not cut and dried. You could cancel an activity where a kid might come a slight cropper - but it not be serious. Or you could cancel the activity entirely and have that one kid subjected to the ire of the group - all because there was a slight risk they might end up in the shrubs.

    Also, we had no idea he was going to end up in a bush, until he was in the bush.

    I think that's a pertinent metaphor for risk assessments in general. They are not a panacea. (I know you're not saying they are. But you can't foresee everything).

    Sometimes you have to challenge young people and perhaps take risks. You sometimes have to put them out of their comfort zone. It doesn't necessarily mean they're being endangered. I must say, on this occasion, that lad said more than once he couldn't manage - but he obviously could, because he did. Knowing him as we did/do, there was no danger of cancelling the activity, it was out of the question and certainly not necessary on safety grounds.

    He was so proud that he did it. (Even if he never gets on a bike again...) It was worth the detour into the foliage.
    Last edited by pa_broon74; 10-02-2020 at 08:39 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pa_broon74 View Post
    we either assumed his hands were not strong enough (which is something I don't think we could reasonably foresee,
    What? You don't take grip force measurers to the start of every bike ride? Absolute cavalier disregard for safety there. Cavalier.

    We've had experienced mountain bikers end up in bushes. Long time ago there were consecutive entries in an accident log, the second one being "as above, but right wrist" after a corner turned out to be sharper than expected for the front two. Then there was the pair that insisted they wanted to hire the tandem on the tarka trail, all was well after they had a bit of practice round the car park, but after lunch they swapped over, went 200m, and punted another explorer off into a ditch full of stingers. Accidents happen, experience gained.
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