Backgrounder: Summary of Bamfield Accident Review Recommendations and Responses

The Conducting Field Schools to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre (BMSC) report makes 43 recommendations of varying complexity. The university accepts all of the recommendations and will be implementing them for future field trips to the BMSC and for the university’s response to large critical incidents. The recommendations will also be used to improve planning for student trips to other destinations. 

Recommendations fall into several categories. 

Pre-trip activities: The university will strengthen pre-planning documents to require a more robust hazard assessment; make emergency contact information a requirement for travel; review appropriate qualifications and training for trip leaders and provide travelers with advance comprehensive information on trip logistics and risks. 

Safer travel along the Bamfield Road:  The parents of the students strongly believe the road needs to be improved for public safety. While this was not a direct recommendation for UVic, the university has and will continue to advocate with the Huu-ay-aht First Nations, BMSC and others to the provincial government for improvements to this essential travel corridor. 

In response to the report’s recommendations, the university will require a hazard assessment and control program for each field trip including mode of transportation. If by bus, travel and arrival will be during daylight, the applicable communication and safety equipment and guidelines will be in place, and appropriate trained staff on board will enforce protocols such as adhering to the itinerary and the wearing of seatbelts when available. 

The university will review with the BMSC if a coordinated approach can be developed to benefit all travelers to Bamfield including exploring a pilot car service, a central information hub for travelers and the use of VHF radio for vehicle-to-vehicle communications. 

Emergency response program improvements: The university will expand its current emergency response structure to more fully address events that happen off campus by reviewing decision-making and management structures, developing response checklists and protocols, and ensuring clearly defined roles for our response teams. 

Coordination of supports for students: In the event of a significant student accident, the university will build on processes currently in place to rapidly expand the student case management model in an inclusive and interdisciplinary manner across various departments and units. 

Understanding family needs and supports: University services and supports are currently focused on students. The university will determine services, supports and resources that could be provided to families of students either on campus or through external agencies. This will include more regular and timely communication with parents. 

Scalable services: The university recognizes that current staffing and resources are not sufficient to support a mass incident response. Staff worked extremely long hours for weeks on end in difficult and demanding circumstances. To better support our students and staff during such an event we will look to develop external resources that can be quickly scaled to provide a range of potential services and supports. 

The university has started to address some of the recommendations in the review including:

  • Mandating emergency contact information as a pre-cursor to course registration;
  • Working with BMSC to have them develop recommendations on safer travel to Bamfield for all of their client groups;
  • Reviewing our trip-planning risk management requirements including starting to update our Field Safety Planning (hazard assessment and control program) documents;
  • Expanding our student community mental health supports through the implementation of a 24x7 support network. This service will allow the university to supplement on-campus services quickly to better support students as well as manage staff workload.
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Keywords: administrative, biology, Bamfield

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