Q. Why does the BSA require all participants to have an Annual Health and Medical Record?
A. The AHMR serves many purposes. Completing a health history promotes health awareness, collects necessary data, and provides medical professionals critical information needed to treat a patient in the event of an illness or injury. It also provides emergency contact information.
Poor health and/or lack of awareness of risk factors have led to disabling injuries, illnesses, and even fatalities. Because we care about our participants' health and safety, the Boy Scouts of America has produced and required the use of standardized health and medical information since at least the 1930s.
The medical record is used to prepare for high-adventure activities and increased physical activity. In some cases, it is used to review participants’ readiness for gatherings like the national Scout jamboree and other specialized activities.
Because many states regulate the camping industry, this Annual Health and Medical Record also serves as a tool that enables councils to operate day and resident camps and adhere to state and BSA requirements. The Boy Scouts of America Annual Health and Medical Record provides a standardized mechanism that can be used by members in all 50 states.
For answers to more questions, visit the FAQ page at www.scouting.org/HealthandSafety/Resources/MedicalFormFAQs.aspx.
The Boy Scouts of America encourages all members of the Scouting community to use available vaccines to fully protect themselves from infectious diseases that are dangerous for children and adults living in the United States. Participants who are not immunized are subject to identification so that they may be located in case of a necessity for isolation or quarantine as required by local public health official directives. Based on risk, a valid (within last 10 years) tetanus immunization is required to participate. State or local requirements for resident camping may be more restrictive.
Protection Consideration for Blood and Bodily Fluids (Universal Precautions)
Treat all blood and bodily fluids as if they were contaminated with blood-borne viruses (i.e., HIV, hepatitis). Do not use bare hands to stop bleeding; always use a protective barrier, and always wash exposed skin areas for at least 15 seconds with soap and water immediately after treating a victim. Consequently, the following personal protective equipment (PPE) must be included in all first-aid kits and used when rendering first aid:
- Nonlatex gloves to be used when stopping bleeding or dressing wounds.
- A mouth barrier device for rendering rescue breathing or CPR.
- Plastic goggles or eye protection to prevent a victim’s blood from getting into a rescuer’s eyes in the event of serious bleeding.
- Antiseptic for use in cleaning exposed skin areas, particularly if there is no soap or water available.
Clean any blood and bodily fluid spills with an appropriate disinfecting solution, such as 10 parts water to one part bleach.
Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations for blood-borne pathogens (29 CFR Section 1910.1030) apply to health-care professions employed by local councils to staff camp health facilities or to fulfill health officer or lifeguard functions at BSA camps. In addition, all designated responders, identified in the local council’s medical emergency response plan, are affected by the regulations. Visit www.osha.gov.
Local Council Membership/Participation Guidelines Regarding Communicable Diseases
The BSA policy regarding communicable diseases (acute or chronic)is as follows:
Local Scouting units and their chartered organizationstraditionally determine their own membership and participation, absent any legal constraints. Accordingly, it is the units and chartered organizations that allow youth or adult members who have, or are suspected of having, a communicable disease to continue to participate in Scouting activities.
The chartered organization and/or a local Scouting unit may request local council assistance if needed, absent any legal restraints. (See Local Council Guidelines Regarding Communicable Disease, No. 680-453, for the steps of that process.)
First Aid and CPR Training
First aid is the first help given to someone who has had an accident or other health emergency. If more attention is needed, first-aid treatment helps keep an injured or ill person as safe as possible until medical personnel arrive. Wilderness first aid (WFA) is the assessment of and treatment given to an ill or injured person in a remote environment when a physician and/or rapid transport are not readily available.
First aid and WFA are important to participants in BSA programs. The BSA strongly recommends that participants avail themselves of CPR with automatic external defibrillator (AED) training, along with first-aid and wilderness first-aid training. For certain program participation, there may be requirements for first aid, wilderness first aid, and CPR/AED. There are no unit-centric requirements at this time.
First aid, WFA, CPR/AED may be taught by instructors currently trained by a nationally certified provider such as the American Red Cross, American Heart Association, Emergency Care and Safety Institute, or American Safety and Health Institute. Cub Scouts can even be taught this valuable skill in a family-type setting. Online-only courses are not accepted if a certification is required. The BSA will accept nationally recognized blended courses—such as from the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, Emergency Care and Safety Institute—where competency can be demonstrated to an instructor.
Further information and advancement in first aid may include wilderness first responder (WFR) and wilderness emergency medical technician (WEMT).
For more information, see the Boy Scout Handbook and the First Aid merit badge pamphlet.