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some enforcement and if the State does not do it, someone has to do it.
Mr. SARASIN. Mr. Feehery, I want to thank you very, very much for the time you have given us this morning and your help to this committee with your own experience. Mr. Chairman, I have no further questions. Thank you.
Mr. DANIELS. Thank you very much.
Mr. Feehery, you stated in 1939 the State of Michigan adopted a children's camp licensing act which was subsequently amended in 1947 and, rather 1944, and that amendment regulated nongovernmental camps. It was also further amended in 1960 and the rules and regulations were updated from time to time in 1960 and 1971 and 1973.
Has the accident rate since you have been associated with the Michigan camping department or camping service department, depreciated to any extent, to your knowledge?
Mr. FEEHERY. I feel that the number of deaths from serious accidents has decreased. For instance, one year there were three deaths. By the way, all three of those deaths, one was a staff member, but they had a history of epilepsy. But they were all considered accidental drowning deaths.
We never had any deaths in 1969 and I think there was one other year and we didn't have any deaths last year. We did lose a couple of staff members last year prior to the start of the camp season in an automobile accident, but there were no children killed in Michigan camps last year.
Mr. DANIELS. The two staff members you lost last year prior to the camp season, would it be related to the camp in any way!
Mr. FEEHERY. Well, it was an automobile accident and it was the last night of the orientation and they went in town and they were not drinking and they were coming back to camp and they were turning into the camp entrance and were hit broadside by another car. Two of the staff members were killed.
Mr. DANIELS. Was the vehicle operated by an experienced operator or driver, licensed driver?
Mr. FEEIERY. Right, it was a licensed driver, but these were camp staff and children were not in the vehicles and in the law we do cover transportation of our children.
Mr. DANIELS. It strikes me as rather strange that your records for past years regarding fatalities and accidents and illness were destroyed, that you only retained your records for the past 3 years. I can't understand why you wouldn't have any records of prior years. Even if you threw the records out, you should have some statistics on prior years on this subject matter.
Mr. FEEHERY. When I say the records were destroyed-in other words, we have 900 camps and we have a lot of camp folders and we find that we just cannot keep them much beyond 3 years.
Mr. DANIELS. How much space would be required to keep a summary of the number of accidents that occurred and number of illnesses that occurred and nature of those accidents and illnesses and
the nature of fatalities? You can put them in a small drawer or a small file. That would not necessarily take up a lot of space.
Mr. SARAsin. May I ask, Mr. Chairman, do we really understand they not only destroyed the folders they might have on their camps but that there is actually no statistical abstract taken or no recordkeeping from which to develop a history?
Mr. FEEHERY. Yes. We have a record in the front of the folder. When I say the folder is destroyed, what I am getting at is evaluation of things prior to the 3 years are usually taken out of the folder, unless there is a real problem with the camp. I can document all, you know, these things I talked about. We have, you know, reports on these fatalities. I have not reports on every accident that has happened in a camp. I have a folder here for 1973 and there are 29 reports in that. Of those, I would say a third, well, there is three in there I know where they sent in a report that they brought the child to the hospital because of a bad cold. I have reports that date back to 1960. I have reports also on any fatalities from the time I came on duty.
Mr. DANIELS. The one I have reference to is this, that during the course of the camping season your law requires recordkeeping. Now, certainly you would have some record as to specifically how many people were killed, specifically how many people were hurt, specifically how many people became sick in camps, and the nature of the accidents and illness and fatalities.
I am not asking for the files on those things. Then compare that with your following year and the year after and I would like that brought up to date.
Mr. FEEHERY. OK. I am being honest with you. I can give you a record on fatalities from 1964 on. I can give you a record on accidents from 1970 on.
Mr. DANIELS. Well, we have heard, time and time again in this committee, that the State of Michigan enacted the first good constructive and effective youth camp safety law. I don't see how you can claim credit for having a good youth camp safety law if you don't come in here with some proof to the effect of conditions which existed prior to the enactment of this law and what are conditions today. You have to have something to compare it with.
If you don't give us figures to make a comparison, I don't go along then with your claim of having a good and effective law.
Mr. SARASIN. Will the chairman yield?
Mr. SARASIN. With regard to 1973, for example, you keep a record of fatalities. What is the other breakdown that you would keep? In other words, what kind of statistics have you assembled for the year 1973? I am not talking about long forms or long reports, but just sheer numbers of accidents involving broken bones or colds or poison ivy, whatever your breakdown is. Can you give us your 1973 breakdown, or is there none ?
Mr. FEEHERY. Right. I have not got that with me.
Mr. SARASIN. Let me ask you the question this way.
you assemble information in that manner for the year 1973?
Mr. FEEHERY. We do.
Mr. Sarasin. Without giving me the numbers for each category, can you tell us what the categories are !
Mr. FEEHERY. The categories are usually broken limbs, say by an accident in the camp. For instance, a child will maybe go out of the tent at night and say trip over a tent pole. I remember one where a child was getting on a horse and fell over the other side.
Mr. SARASIN. But for the year 1973, you would have the total number of broken limbs?
Mr. FEEHERY. Right.
Mr. SARASIN. Then that is one of the ways in which you assembled information from the various camps under a category called, “broken limbs." What other categories are there!
Mr. FEEHERY. No. The categories are under "illness and causes of the accidents” and it is no problem to assemble it on what, you know, what actually happened.
Mr. SARASIN. But that would require you now to go through all of the 1973 records to decide, in your list of hypothetically 500 illnesses, that 300 of them were broken limbs and 200 of them were poison ivy, or whatever, would it not?
Mr. FEEHERY. No, the only requirement we have is they send in a report where an accident requires hospitalization or the child to be sent home. We do not require a report every time a child cuts his finger in a camp.
Mr. SARASIN. All right, but for the year 1973 do you have available a comprehensive and complete record of the number of hospitalizations reported by your camps?
Mr. FEEHERY. I have it right in this folder, all of the accident reports.
Mr. SARASIN. I am still somewhat confused. Do you have the accident reports—do you have on one piece of paper the total number of fatalities and the total number of hospitalizations?
What I want to know is what your specific categories are and how you break down these statistics, if at all. My ultimate question is, if the information is available for 1973, how does it compare with 1966 ?
It would seem to me, frankly, rather incredible that you have no way of comparing 1973 with 1966 or 1967 or any other year. If these figures are not available, you cannot determine, as a direct result of the improvements in training and supervision, that you have been able to reduce the accident rate per thousand campers, or whatever number you may want to use, from year to year, or to show that you had an irregular year. It would seem that without statistical data you are unable to develop a comparative analysis to determine the effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the laws, guidelines designed to reduce accidents or fatalities. I find this both surprising and unfortunate.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
37-569 - 74 - 7
[Information referred to above follows:]
State of Michigan
Department of Social Services
14 11 12 56 93
RECEIVED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES
Cuts requiring stitches
Accidental Deaths in Children's Camps
(1964 thru 1973)
camp waterfront (lake)
2 2 1 2
1 1 1 11
CAMP WATERFRONT (LAKE) A ten year old girl drowned in a camp swimming area. She was missing on buddy check and found beyond the lemon line dividing the Beginners Area and Intermediate Area. She was a nonswimmer and somehow slipped into the deeper area. The Water Safety Instructor was on a raft within 10 feet of where she was found. No one saw her nor did anyone hear any cry for help.
A ten year old girl lost her life as a result of a submersion in two feet of water. The submersion occured at 4:00 p.m. and she died at 12:30 a.m. She was underwater for less than 30 seconds and when rescued, she resumed breathing normally and was conscious. This child had a history of epilepsy, was a hydrocephalic, and a nonswimmer. The coroner listed the death as drowning. There was a Water Safety Instructor within 25 feet of the submersion.
A six year old boy was found in the deep end of a pool. The pool was fenced in and the children had all left the pool and were dressing. Witnesses said they saw the boy in the dressing area outside the fence. The guards were at the shallow end of the pool waiting for the next class and one guard walked down to the deep end and saw the boy on the bottom. No one knows how the boy got back over the fence and into the pool. He was a nonswimmer.
AWAY FROM CAMP WATERFRONT
A boy drowned while on a trip. The group went swimming at a public beach and the boy was not allowed to go swimming with the group because he was a nonswimmer and subject to epileptic seizures. While on shore with his buddy he said, "Don't tell the counselor I am going in anyway". He was found under a raft in 8 feet of water.
A boy drowned while swimming with four other boys and two counselors at a gravel pit. The camp management had not approved the gravel pit for swimming. The water dropped off sharply and the boy, a nonswimmer, was found less than 20 feet from shore in 15 feet of water. One of the counselors, a Senior Life Saver, said they all were coming out of the water together and when he looked around the one boy, a nonswimmer, was missing.
BOATING-AWAY FROM CAMP BOATING AREA
Two boys found an old boat which had been washed ashore and hid it in the bushes near their campsite. A couple of days later they slipped away unnoticed by their counselor and took the boat out with no life jackets or preservers. The boat sank 25 yards offshore. One boy swam to safety, the other boy, a nonswimmer, drowned.
A boy who was a nonswimmer used another boy's buddy tag so he could go out in a canoe. He fell out of the canoe reaching for a line and drowned. He was not wearing a life jacket. There was another boy in the canoe and other canoes nearby. He never came to the surface and drowned in 18 feet of water.
A boy, who was an experienced rider, died of a head injury when he fell from a horse. While the horse was in motion he leaned over to pick up a jacket and the stirrup broke. Besides being an experienced rider (for 7 years), he had a riding horse at home and brought a new saddle to camp.
FALL FROM CLIFF
On a Sunday morning two boys left the camp without permission and went to an area which was out of bounds to campers about a mile from camp. One boy, the son of the camp doctor, was fatally injured when he lost his footing, slid down to the edge and over a 200' cliff to the shoreline of Lake Superior.
Two counselors and 8 boys were riding in a covered army type truck when the truck swerved off an expressway and rolled over. One boy was killed. The other boys were treated at the hospital and released. The counselor driving couldn't explain what happened nor could the sheriff's department. There was no traffic, the pavement was dry and the road was straight.
BURIED IN SAND
Two boys were digging a garbage pit near Lake Michigan, adjacent to their troop campsite. The soil near the lake was very sandy and the pit caved in burying one of the boys. By the time rescuers reached the boy he had died from suffocation.
Mr. DANIELS. All right, thank you, Mr. Feehery. I appreciate your coming here.
[Mr. Feehery's prepared statement follows:]
PREPARED STATEMENT OF JAMES FEEHERY, DIRECTOR OF CAMPING SERVICES,
MICHIGAN STATE DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES
In Michigan today, a camp operating five or more days servicing five or more school age children apart from their parents, relatives, or legal guardian is required to be regulated as a children's camp. If a camp has preschool aged children, it must have a separate program for those children and obtain a child care center license.
Additionally, in March of this year a new child care licensing act, Act No. 116, Public Act of 1973, became law. This act includes the regulation of gov. ernmental as well as privately administered camps. Therefore all children`attending camps in the State of Michigan are afforded protection by law.