As a 4-Her, I did a clinic with my 4-H horse club. One girl was kicked in the head by a horse during the clinic. Despite wearing her helmet, she was critically injured and was airlifted to the hospital. During this emergency, adults and older club members acted fast to implement our club emergency plan. Responsibilities included: removing the horses/kids from the area, beginning first aid, calling 911 and waiting by the road to direct the ambulance, calming her mother, engaging kids in activities away from the area, and securing horses when the helicopter was needed.
Planning with your 4-H Club
Not all incidents are worst case scenarios. Make safety a top priority. Taking precautions provide you with a peace of mind. The safety of participants and animals is an important responsibility. Below are some ways to promote safety.
- Keep a first aid kit on hand. Include supplies such as adhesive bandages, antibiotic ointment, antiseptic wipes, non-latex disposable gloves, sterile gauze, scissors, tweezers, thermometer, instant cold packs, and sunscreen. Keep contact information for your 4-H Agent in your kit should an incident occur.
- Just like humans, animals can also become injured. Keep a first aid kit ready for them. The animal kit will contain many of the same items as your club first aid kit. Additional items to include are vet wrap, petroleum jelly, rubbing alcohol, and disposable razors. Have contact numbers for vets, farriers, etc. as well as a list of each species vital signs inside your animal first aid kit.
- If your club has elected a Sergeant-at-Arms, their job includes being on watch for potential risks. Have them check first aid kits and refill them as items expire or are used.
Emergency Plan of Action:
Create a club emergency plan of action. As you think of possible risks, create a list of job duties that may be needed. Add this typed list to your first aid kits of possible duties for emergencies. Have forms on hand such as insurance documents, incident report forms, 4-H agent contact information, and enrollment forms from florida.4honline.com. Enrollment forms have important contact and health information for club members. Print enrollment forms before your event or make sure you can access them through a mobile device. Go over your plan with all volunteers, members, and parents. And do a quick review before each event.
Plan your communication
Discuss your communication strategy. How will you contact everyone? Who is in charge of communications? Different formats may be needed to reach everyone. Examples include face to face, phone calls, Facebook messaging or posts on a Facebook group page, email, and group texting through apps such as group me. With your communication plans in place, it is easier to keep tabs on everyone (especially during states of emergency like hurricanes). And include your 4-H agent in your communications.
It’s not always about injuries
Youth protection is our number one goal. 4-H volunteers are mandatory reporters of child abuse and neglect. Volunteers provide a physically and emotionally safe environment during 4-H events. Abuse occurs in many ways including physical, neglect, emotional and psychological, and sexual. Engage youth during club planning and go over abuse scenarios. Guide discussion on types of abuse and who to tell if it happens to them or a friend. Most importantly, report incidents immediately to your 4-H agent. Write down what happened when it is fresh in your mind. If necessary, your 4-H agent will guide you through the mandatory reporting process.
The State 4-H website has many resources available to volunteers. An event planning matrix is helpful to anticipate situations, brainstorm ways to mitigate risk, and/or decide if the benefits of the event outweigh the risk. Follow the link to the planning matrix.
Happy planning! And report any incidents to your 4-H Agent. It is better to over-report and err on the side of caution.