IAG COVID-19 Best Practices

Posted on May 30, 2020

Island Alpine Guides Covid-19 Risk Management Practices (17 Nov 2020)

 

Context 

This document outlines a series of ‘best practices’ which Island Alpine Guides (IAG) will follow when operating trips and courses while the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is present. The contents of this document are derived predominantly from the advice of the BC Provincial Health Officer and industry best practices as outlined in the following two documents: 

1) Association of Canadian Mountain Guides - Suggested COVID-19-related Best Practices for Phased Return to Work for ACMG Members - May 13, 2020. 

2) BC Adventure Programs - COVID-19 Best Practices - Created by members of the Adventure Articulation Committee British Columbia Council of Articulation and Transfer (BCCAT) - April 2020 

These practices are subject to change as public health advice and industry best practices evolve. All trip/course participants as well as IAG guides and instructors will be required to: 

1) Read this document 

2) Sign the COVID-19 Practices Agreement and Declaration of Health and Exposure 

3) Submit the results of an online COVID-19 Screening Questionnaire 

Co-Management of COVID-19 Risk 

The responsibility for managing the spread of COVID-19 will be shared with all course/trip participants and IAG staff. Participants and staff alike must understand their personal roles and responsibilities in reducing the potential spread of the virus. Additionally, all participants must understand that continued delivery of courses and trips is contingent on following all protocols. Participants will be excluded from activities if protocols go unfollowed. All directives in this document are designed to manage the risk of COVID-19 but will not eliminate that risk. 

It remains a possibility, despite these precautions, that participants or staff could contract the COVID-19 virus. 

Classroom Settings 

At time of the latest update of these practices (17 November 2020) the plan for Avalanche Skills Training classroom sessions in the coming winter 20/21 will be as follows: 

-IAG will use large spaces for small groups (room capacity 150 persons, class size 16 students) to allow for ample distancing between students 

-All students and instructors will be required to wear appropriate COVID-19 PPE, and hand sanitizer will be provided at the entrance of the hall. 

-If public health advice changes through the course of the winter to make it impossible for IAG to run classroom sessions, the classroom portions of courses will change to online learning while field sessions continue. 

Group Hygiene 

-Everyone on the trip/course must endeavour to stay 2 metres apart at all times 

-All participants are required to bring an ample personal supply of alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60% ethanol or 70% isopropanol, to have it on hand at all times, and to use it after any contact with any surface touched by another participant or IAG staff

-Participants must not pass food or beverages to one another unless they are members of a cohabiting group 

-All participants and instructors/guides must supply their own masks and wear them at all times indoors and outdoors at any time that there is a possibility of being closer than two metres from another participant or IAG staff who are not part of their cohabiting group

Transportation 

All participants and guides/instructors should arrive at the meeting point in their own vehicles, alone or in a cohabiting group, or having been dropped off with an expectation to be picked up by a member of their cohabiting group 

Pre-trip Communication with Participants 

-All participants are being informed that IAG is taking precautions to limit potential viral spread 

-Specific precautions will be determined and described based on the state of pandemic at the time of participation, as well as the attendant public health and industry advice 

-All participants are being informed that the waiver has changed to reflect COVID-19 risk and that they must read it thoroughly to ensure they understand and acknowledge those changes 

-All participants will be required to complete an online COVID-19 screening questionnaire five days prior to their trip or course and send a screenshot of their results to IAG. 

-All participants will be required to sign a Declaration of Health and Exposure. Participation will be limited to those who can attest to being well, to not having been exposed to anyone who is sick, and to not having travelled outside the country within 14 days of the commencement of the trip or course. 

-Participants in higher risk demographics (age >64 years, pre-disposing conditions) will be asked not to participate. 

-IAG cancellation policy has been adjusted to allow for unforeseen changes. If IAG is forced to reschedule or cancel trips or courses because of restrictive measures coming back into place due to a resurgence in the virus, everyone booked will be given the choice of rescheduling or receiving a full credit for anytime in the future. 

-If booked participants feel unwell leading up to a trip, IAG will insist that they do not participate and will offer a full credit. 

-If participants are booking front-country accommodation previous to the trip/course they must vet the viral mitigation procedures of the accommodation provider before booking.

-Participants are informed that by signing COVID-19 Practices Agreement and participating in the trip or course, they agree to abide by the mitigation procedures in this document. They also accept and understand that despite all precautions, participants and/or staff are still at risk of contracting the virus. 

Pre-trip Communication with IAG Guides/Instructors 

-All guides/instructors will be informed that we are taking precautions to limit potential viral spread and that their participation on the trip is dependent on their agreement to abide by these guidelines. 

-All guides/instructors will be required to sign the COVID-19 Practices Agreement and Declaration of Health and Exposure 

-IAG will only engage guides/instructors who can attest to being well, to not having been exposed to anyone who is sick, and to have not travelled outside the country within 14 days of the commencement of the trip. 

-Guides/instructors in higher risk demographics (age >64 years, pre-disposing conditions) will not be engaged. 

-Pre-trip/course meetings will be held with guides/instructors at which we will discuss in detail the pandemic-related mitigations we are instituting on the trip, review emergency protocols specific to viral mitigation and consider limits to exposure to risks other than COVID-19

First Aid/Emergency Response and Evacuation Protocol 

If a possible case of COVID-19 is discovered in the field, the following protocols should be adhered to: 

-Where possible, evacuation of a person suspected of being infected with COVID-19 should be done using internal resources, not external

-The suspected infected person should be placed in quarantine until evacuation is possible 

-A deep clean of all common areas, transportation and equipment should happen immediately post-evacuation 

-Increased vigilance with personal hygiene and deep cleaning of all points of contact should occur during and after an evacuation 

-The subject should be managed and transported as directed in communications with health authorities 

-If unable to reach health authorities for direction from a remote location, transportation, where possible, should be to medical facilities closest to the home community of the subject if possible 

-The subject must confirm with IAG if they tested positive for COVID-19 so an appropriate response can be initiated with other participants. Other participants should meanwhile follow protocols for self-isolation immediately, until this information is known

-IAG guides/instructors will carry additional masks and gloves in the first aid kit; use approved mask, gloves and eye protection for all first aid applications and dispose of mask and gloves after use 

-If rescue is required, ensure the subject is masked 

Non COVID-19 Evacuation Protocol 

Where possible, groups should endeavour to self-evacuate injured participants and minimize use of public resources. 

Minimizing COVID-19 Spread to Other Communities 

IAG recommends that participants and IAG guides/instructors endeavour to: 

-Travel from home community to meeting point without stopping in communities outside of their own 

-Use “pay at the pump” facilities if stopping for gas is necessary, and avoid stepping into any place of business in communities other than the person’s own 

Equipment and PPE 

-On overnight trips, participants and guides/instructors must stay in their own tent (or roofed accommodation of their own booking when applicable), unless they have been cohabiting prior to the trip

-All participants and guides/instructors must supply and cook their own meals 

-Only those who have been cohabiting may share meals and cooking supplies

-All company owned soft goods (ropes, harnesses, slings, etc.) will either be isolated for a minimum of three days or be washed in warm, soapy water prior to each trip

-All company owned hard goods (biners, ice axes, crampons, rock protection, avalanche safety gear, skis, ski poles, hiking poles etc.) will be either isolated for a minimum of three days or be washed in warm, soapy water prior to each trip

-All hard goods without soft material or plastic may also be sprayed with a dilute solution of bleach and water or a hospital grade bactericide/anti-virus followed by adequate drying prior to each trip as an acceptable alternative

Post-trip Communication with Guides/Instructors 

IAG will solicit feedback from guides/instructors regarding whether these best practices significantly impaired their ability to deliver a safe and enjoyable experience for their participants. If participant experience was negatively impacted, IAG will make an effort to revise practices, while still working within provincial guidelines.

Post-trip Communication with Participants 

IAG will communicate with participants post trip/course to solicit feedback regarding whether participants felt protected from COVID-19 and/or whether these practices negatively impacted their experience. Participants must also agree to contact IAG immediately if they experience any COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of their trip/course.

Should you have any questions about the contents of this document, please do not hesitate to reach out to IAG at (250) 400-2870 or info@islandalpineguides.com