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General Guidelines

Guidelines Specific to Virginia Intermont College

Virginia Intermont College subscribes to the document titled “ Recommended Guidelines for Programmed Recreational Tree Climbs” with the following changes, additions, and/or deletions. The following guidelines are specific to Virginia Intermont College and apply to those climbs conducted on the campus of Virginia Intermont College that qualify as “program” climbs.


· All program climbs shall be administered by instructors and/or facilitators who have received training as faciliatators and/or instructors from a recognized trainer or training entity as well as having been trained in basic recreational tree climbing. Such training shall consist of a formal course in facilitation administered by qualified instructors accepted within the recreational tree climbing community. All program climbs will be overseen by an instructor or designated lead facilitator. There will be no more than three facilitators operating under the guidance of any one instructor or lead facilitator and there shall be no more than six climbers climbing under the guidance of any one facilitator

· All Instructors, lead facilitators, and facilitators shall be familiar with, and have on hand, any documents that are required from participants, such as waivers and release forms.

· All Instructors, lead facilitators, and facilitators shall be familiar with guidelines and policies specific to the location of the climb and the hosdt/partner agency.

· All Instructors, lead facilitators, and facilitators shall be familiar with the tree to be climbed and the equipment to be used for the climb


· All equipment used in “life-support” applications shall be equipment manufacured for the purpose of vertical rope-assisted climbing by reputable, well-known manufacturers and shall be used in accordance with manufacturer’s recommendations.

· The harness to be used shall be of the type manufactured by New Tribe, or when necessary, that type manufactured for use by professional arborists.

· Carabiners shall be of the “screwgate” variety, either aluminum or steel. Triact carabiners are also acceptable. Ball lock carabiners are not acceptable.

· Helmets manufactured for the purpose of climbing shall be utilized.

· Only ropes manufactured and/or sold for the purpose of tree climbing are to be used, and must be inspected before and after every climb.

Conducting the climb

· The tree, and the area surrounding the tree, shall have been inspected for hazards before being rigged and the beginning of the climb. All hazards will have been removed from the tree prior to the beginning of programmed climbing. This includes deadwood, hanging dead limbs, wasp and bee nests, etc.

· The area of the campus beneath the dripline of the tree, including sidewalks, shall be roped off and normal foot traffic excluded during the period of time involving rigging the tree, de-rigging the tree, and during the climb itself.

· The tree shall be rigged by facilitators and instructors only. All rigging, including knots, shall be inspected prior to the climb by the designated “lead” facilitator.

· At least one setting shall be created and exist for rescue and facilitation purposes only. At least one facilitator shall always be “rigged and ready” to climb, in the event that an emergency aloft should occur. If there is an instructor or a facilitator aloft in the tree this will negate the need for a “rigged and ready” climber on the ground.

· All climbers and, if appropriate, all parents and guardians of climbers, shall receive proper orientation and introduction to safety procedures prior to climbing. Climbing techniques and safety protocols shall be demonstrated. The orientation shall be carried out by the lead facilitator/instructor or under the direction of the lead facilitator/instructor.

· Parents or guardians of underage participants shall remain in the vicinity of the climb and be available if needed. Underage shall be defined as sixteen years of age or less.

· All climbing shall occur “on rope”. Free climbing, or “off rope” climbing, is not permitted.

· All climbing by participants will utilize double rope technique. Facilitator staff may use single rope technique when called for.

· The facilitator-to-climber ratio, as established byVirginia Intermont College, and referred to under the heading “personnel”, above, shall be adhered to.

· All climbers shall be fitted into harnesses and helmets by facilitators and inspected to be sure they have been properly fitted and secured to the climber.

· All climbers shall be attached to climbing ropes by facilitators and inspected to ensure proper attachment.

· Everyone, including climbers, facilitators, instructors, parents, and others will wear head protection while within the dripline of the tree.

· All loose items shall be secured to the climber before the climber leaves the ground.

· Once climbers are “on rope” and off the ground, ascent and descent procedures should be re-stated and the climber questioned by the facilitator to make sure that procedures are understood.

· All other life-support equipment shall be inspected before and after each climb, and such equipment that does not pass inspection shall be dealt with in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations.

· As climbers advance, facilitators will place safety knots in climber’s ropes at appropriate intervals. Each time a safety knot reaches the ground, another safety knot shall be placed on the rope at the facilitator’s head level.

· As climbing progresses, facilitators should strive to maintain situational awareness and be aware of potential problems that could develop. Such problems include weather, personality issues, outside distractions, and parents who may “coach” their children in an inappropriate manner.

· All climbing shall be conducted with regard for the policy of Challenge By Choice.

· Onlookers , bystanders, and parents/guardians are not to interfere in any way with facilitator’s efforts to conduct a safe and successful climb. Those disregarding this will be asked to leave the area and, if necessary, escorted from the area.

· All descents shall be belayed by facilitators with a hand on the climber’s rope.

· Participants shall be relieved of their gear following a climb by facilitators.

· Facilitators will make sure that all gear has been returned.

Emergency action plan

· Instructors and facilitators shall have an emergency action plan discussed, ready, and in place before the start of the activity.

For climbing at Virginia Intermont College the Emergency Action Plan shall be:

The lead facilitator shall take immediate charge.

Someone shall be dispatched immediately to call emergency services.

One facilitator shall be assigned to “crowd control”.

Dispatch someone to “guide” the emergenct service personnel to the area.

If immediately necessary, a rescue shall be performed to bring the “victim” to the ground and first aid applied.

Victim shall be stabilized until emergency personnel arrive.

Follow up with forms, paperwork, and an after-action review.

· All instructors and facilitators will be aware of address and location of the climb in order to pass the information along to EMS personnel.

Main Campus Quad:
Virginia Intermont College
1013 Moore Street,
Bristol, Virginia 24201
Campus Security: (276)-466-7950

· All instructors and facilitators will be aware of location of nearest EMS facility

· All instructors and facilitators administering a programmed climb shall have First Aid/CPR certification via Red Cross or appropriate agency.

· All instructors and facilitators shall have received instruction in rescue techniques applicable for the type of climb to be administered and be familiar with all rescue gear provided at the climbing site.

· An appropriate-sized first aid kit shall be available at every climb. The first aid kit will be inspected and re-stocked following all climbs.

· A telephone (or cell phone) shall be accessible with a list of appropriate emergency numbers available.

Telephone numbers for the Virginia Intermont College area of operation.
First option: Call 911!
Bristol Fire Department: (276) 645-7304

Post-climb procedures

· De-rigging the tree shall be performed by facilitator personnel

· All gear shall be inspected for damage before being stored.

· An after-action review, or debriefing, shall occur in which all issues concerning the climb shall be discussed.

· Accident report forms and after-action report forms shall be filled out after the climb as needed.

Adaptive climbs

In addition to the recommendations above:

· Facilitators shall have received training in adaptive climbing systems from a recognized trainer or training entity.

· Medical personnel familiar with the climbers' conditions and needs shall be present, when deemed necessary and based upon climber’s physical condition., to oversee the climb and to make recommendations concerning connections between climbers and the support system.

· Adult climbers, willing to accept responsibility for themselves and having signed documents to that effect, shall be permitted to climb without presence of medical personnel, pending approval of lead facilitator.

· The lead facilitator shall have the authority to refuse service to any climber when deemed necessary in situations involving adaptive climbing and adaptive climbing systems.

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