Making Sure 5,000 Boy Scouts Stayed Safe

HYANNIS – If you happened to drive by the Cape Cod Fairgrounds in East Falmouth over Columbus Day weekend, you would have seen hundreds of tents covering every inch of grass on the fairgrounds and surrounding fields. What may not have caught your eye was the field hospital and two first aid stations set in the middle of the mass encampment.

“There were 5,100 boy scouts who attended this MassJam,” said Alexander Heard, MD, a pediatrician with Cape Cod Pediatrics and the Falmouth Hospital chief medical officer, who took on the role of medical director for this event.

MassJam is a gathering of thousands of Boy Scouts, Webelos and Venturers from Massachusetts and surrounding states for fun, entertainment, challenging activities, competitions, exhibits and fellowship according to their website. It is held every five years.

The three-day event for ages 10 through 18, had the potential for many injuries.

“You get a few hundred boys together and things will happen,” said Dr. Heard. “We saw burns, sprains, a couple of shoulder injuries, a couple of concussions and then a whole bunch of dehydration and sunburns because of the heat on Saturday.”

Some of the activities included the GaGa ball game, much like dodge ball, played in an octagonal-shaped pit. Obstacle courses, climbing walls, tomahawk throwing at a wall and archery were in the mix as well as whiffle ball and high-powered rocket bottles.

The two first aid stations were strategically placed to initially triage the injured and sick and, if further treatment was needed, they were helped onto a four wheel all-terrain vehicle and transported to the field hospital.

“The most we had in the field hospital were four scouts at any given time,” said Dr. Heard.

The field hospital was well-stocked with everything from emergency equipment such automated external defibrillators (AEDs), nebulizers and intravenous (IV) supplies to bandages, lotions, creams, ice packs, Tylenol and Ibuprofen. A staff of three physicians, four nurses and EMTs/Paramedics from around the state manned the medical facilities around-the-clock.

Three scouts had to be transported to Falmouth Hospital with shoulder and thumb injuries.

Organizing the medical support

The medical piece of MassJam was two years in the making. Dr. Heard and his co-chair, Blake Edwards, a paramedic from Western Massachusetts, worked on various aspects and recruited a medical team.

“We had to design emergency procedures, get supplies and develop policies,” said Dr. Heard. “We had a series of meetings over that time and one big one with all the other key players of the event.”

Various departments at Cape Cod Hospital were very helpful in getting supplies, including the marketing department, pharmacy, housekeeping and materials management. “They all chipped in to help us out, which made it easier,” said Dr. Heard.

“The weekend was a lot of fun.”

By ROBERTA CANNON, Cape Cod Health News

About NewsCenter

The award-winning NewsCenter provides the Cape Cod community with a constant, credible source for local news. We are on the job seven days a week.
737 West Main Street
Hyannis, MA 02601
Contact Us | Advertise Terms of Use 
Employment and EEO | Privacy