Time flies when you're having fun. Time
to write that definitive article for the lead into the first bqr of 2001.
As usual, I've put it off 'til the last minute. Five days
past the deadline for submissions and the night before driving to the
Ferry to rig for a science trip. Luckily for gcrg, we have Lynn Hamilton
to keep things from flying apart. Speaking of Lynn, in what is probably
a long overdue move, the Board of Directors has voted to establish the
position of Executive Director and promote her into the position since
in reality, she's been performing in that capacity since she took
on the job of keeping our heads above the water a few years ago. She is
the perfect person for the job and we are really blessed to have her.
A few weeks back, Lynn, Richard Quartaroli and I attended two meetings
at the South Rim. The morning meeting dealt with nps concerns over last
summer's outbreak of gastroenteritis on river trips; specifically,
they (we) want to determine the etiology of the illness and implement
effective preventative measures.
The best guess regarding etiology is a waterborne viral pathogen. Since
viruses are not filtered out by any water filtration methods, we will
also have to disinfect all of our water with chlorine, iodine, boiling
or carry pure water from the Ferry or Phantom Ranch. Carrying water from
pure sources is only possible for motor trips and boiling is prohibitively
fuel and labor intensive. That leaves rowing trips with only two possibilities
for pure water, iodine and chlorine. Many people are iodine intolerant,
leaving only chlorine disinfection after filtration as a way to provide
safe, potable water on rowing trips.
The challenge for those of us who don't like that swimming pool
taste or are concerned with the possible long term health effects of ingesting
mega amounts of chlorine (a powerful oxidant), is to figure out how to
effectively remove the chlorine after the required disinfection. I think
a second pumping of the chlorinated water through a carbon filter might
work. Any ideas out there on this one? Contact me and let's get
a system figured out.
While the additional requirements for purification will increase our workload
a little, I'm encouraged by the fact that they realize that it's
the water and not our sanitation practices causing the outbreaks.
A related topic of discussion was the fact that the offending pathogen
was never positively identified in either the 2000 or the 1994 outbreaks.
In order to rectify this, stool samples from infected individuals need
to be obtained in a timely manner for testing. Procedural protocols will
be forthcoming. The bottom line though (no pun intended), is to keep people
healthy on our trips.
Our second meeting was to get acquainted
with the new acting Wilderness District Ranger, Mike McGinnis, and discuss
the first aid and guide licensing changes instituted in the 2001 Commercial
Operating Requirements (cors). We were opposing the change from a minimum
requirement of Department of Transportation (dot) First Responder to Wilderness
Advanced First Aid (wafa) for guides and Wilderness First Responder (wfr)
for trip leaders. Our argument was that the cost and time commitment coupled,
with the limited availability of courses, would present undue hardship
on all guides and would eliminate many veteran guides who have moved on
to other endeavors, but would like to guide a trip occasionally. We also
pointed out that there is, as yet, no nationally recognized standard curriculum
for wafa or wfr.
The Parks' position is that the requirement has been raised nationally
to the wfr level so they are compelled to raise it in the Canyon. They
did, however, acquiesce to our contention that a phase-in period was necessary;
thus, for the time being, if a guide stays current in all certifications,
the dot standard will be acceptable. It is a tough position for us to
take, because we see the value of wafa and wfr training and have encouraged
and helped to provide it for guides, but to make it the minimum requirement
seems to place an unfair burden on the guides. A note here…nps personnel
are paid to take the required courses. Any ideas out there on this one?
We also discussed the new change in the cors requiring new guides to have
outfitter sponsorship in order to take the Guide Licensing Test. The nps
argument on this one was that they want someone else to take responsibility
for verifying the necessary experience qualifications of a guide candidate.
This is a liability issue that the Park Service feels they need to divest
Then there are all those other issues that we need to work on. Use allocations,
guide pay and benefits, decommissioning the dam, eating breakfast and
getting my next trip rigged. The last two of which have to be my priority
at this point. Hopefully most of you know what I'm saying, but please
feel free to write or e-mail me personally with your criticism or, better
yet, any helpful ideas or suggestions you may have. Cheers, or as the
old-timers used to say, “Guano,” for now.
Kenton “Factor” Grua