Tree planting season is a time for new challenges, friendships and unique life and work experiences. This is where I found my true roots as a person and established many of my core values. In between the sweat, blood and tears we planters all share throughout each new season, there is a growing need for conversation and awareness around planter safety. From my experience as a first responder, I know the importance of preparing for emergency situations, especially when working in a remote location.
When living in a Spectrum planting camp with 60 to 100 people, it can be easy to become complacent in safety because you feel more invincible – you know the people around you have your back. You can depend on your friends, teammates, and co-workers to look out for you. While this is great for team morale, I have personally found it can be misleading when making decisions about personal safety and could lead to injury. It’s important to remember that you are responsible for making safe choices for yourself and those around you.
While living in a remote location, we must remember that the risk factor for injury increases exponentially solely on the fact that we’re much further away from a hospital and higher level of care. Even a minor injury, like a cut, can become catastrophic if proper care isn’t taken. In this case, the biggest risk to consider is infection. It is easy to clean and bandage a wound in the moment, but what is difficult in the planting environment is maintenance during the healing process. This is every individual’s responsibility to take care of their bodies’ needs.
When it comes to emergency response, the best way to be prepared is through hands-on practice. I recommend dedicating some time before and during each season to go through mock emergency scenarios with a team. This will better prepare you and those around you to respond to emergency situations in a timely manner. When living in remote locations, every minute can literally make the difference between life and death. Practicing emergency response isn’t meant to make everyone’s actions be perfectly choreographed, but rather to hone and sharpen our abilities to make quick
decisions while in these intense situations.
Each season, we have an emergency response plan (ERP) handed out to each member of the management team to place in their work truck. Make sure you and those around you know the plan before you need the plan. While working as a medic in remote oilfields, I conducted daily meetings that contained every detail and step of the ERP. Through repetition my hope was to ingrain important details into everyone’s minds about what to do in an emergency.
The ERP includes vital information, like directions to the nearest hospital, the spot closest to camp that has cell reception, the names of designated drivers and their availability, the telephone number for helicopter evacuation, who makes the call to emergency services, names of all first aiders in the camp and much more. Meetings reviewing the ERP also serve as a great opportunity for crew leaders and first aiders to show the planters the contents of the emergency transport vehicles.
Ultimately, the mitigation or reduction of risks and injuries comes through education and preventative measures. Remember you are responsible for your safety, as well as the safety of those around you. By shifting our focus to educating, empowering, and preparing our team, we can help each other grow into a stronger, safer and higher functioning community.
By Desirae Dykun, Tree Planter and Head First Aid Attendant