When it comes to emergency preparedness, a first aid kit from the local drug store and one person with outdated first aid certification just doesn’t cut it anymore. Every resort and park needs to be up to date with a contingency plan for administering first aid to customers AND employees. A few simple steps and procedures can help insure that when someone is hurt, your resort or park will be ready.

Written plan
Establishing a first aid program begins with a written plan. The plan needs to be in staff manuals as well as prominent places for immediate access and reviewed frequently. Having a copy in the file in the front office isn’t enough. The entire plan needs to be in prominent program areas including maintenance, housekeeping, registration, store, recreation areas especially the pool or water front areas. This plan should be reviewed by your insurance carrier and legal counsel. In most areas, local emergency/fire officials will also review the plan and your operation as well. Use these resources to confirm that nothing has been left to chance.

All staff need training in the resort or park’s emergency procedures. These should be reviewed periodically and even practiced. As many staff as possible should also be certified in First Aid, CPR and infant/child CPR. These programs are readily available through local American National Red Cross chapters, municipal or county fire/emergency response departments and many hospitals. With a minimum number, a park may even qualify to have the training done for the entire staff at the resort or park.

Code RED
It might be code red, green or purple or it might be a number, but there should be a code name for emergency situations. Most parks use two way radios. In order to alert staff and not alarm customers establish code names for medical or other forms of emergency. Even in domestic situations or law enforcement incidents where extra staff are needed ‘on the double’ it’s good to have code names for various situations. You never know when a guest may be within earshot of a walkie talkie or two way radio. There’s a lot of resort business that can alarm a guest unnecessarily and they just don’t ‘need to know’.

Additional Considerations:

No matter how insignificant, always have a written accident/incident report completed and kept on file at the resort or park. Be sure these blank forms are conveniently located. When the situation warrants, be sure to investigate an accident fully getting names, addresses and statements of witnesses. Follow your insurance carrier’s procedure for notification of potential claims. Periodically review the files. There may be places or situations that repeatedly cause accidents or incidents. These need to be corrected or adjusted to eliminate or reduce the hazard.

Customer Service
If a guest is injured and requires transport to a hospital, even as a precautionary check, have a staff person accompany them if possible. Follow up with a phone call to their home to say “we care”. (Not a bad idea for employee injuries too!)

Dangerous plants and animals
Included in the resort operator’s medical emergency program needs to be preparation for special treatments for dangerous plants and animals. Dangerous plants including poison ivy and oak can be ellusive to our primarily urban customer base who may not recognize the hazard. Animals including snakes, scorpions, fire ants also pose a threat to both the guest AND their pets. Many customers also need to be cautioned about approaching wild animals who may look cuddly but are unpredictable and may be rabid. Every year folks are mauled or killed by feeding bears, photographing moose too closely or trying to pet beggar coyotes. Even the Bambis of the world can bite! Educating both staff and especially customers not familiar with the peculiarities of your geographic area can be helpful in prevention of injuries.

Additional emergency preparedness
While first aid is probably the most frequently occurring type of emergency, every park should follow a similar outline for other forms of potential catastrophes . Weather hazards such as torrential rain, flash floods, blizzards, hurricanes and tornadoes require specialized planning. Fire including wild fires outside the property can pose challenges for the resort or park operator. Frequently in very rural areas, resorts and parks may need to position themselves as emergency shelter locations or staging areas for back country search and rescue operations. The potential hazards and emergencies of each resort and park need to be carefully considered to BE READY!

Suzanne Mark

Former VP of Education for the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), past Education Director for the National Association of RV Parks & Campgrounds (ARVC)and former Corporate Coordinator for Outdoor World a division of the Rank Organisation. Mark specializes in operational design and evaluation, recreation management, staff training and development as well as customer service.