Safety Guidelines

Elsbeth Services, LLC

DBA: Wise Old Man of Isle Royale

Safety Guidelines


Wise Old Man of Isle Royale (WOMIR) strives to inform clients of best practices in safety prior to and during the excursion, including information for hiking and camping safely, providing safe drinking water for hydration, and for staying safe from Covid-19.

Role of the Guide in Group Safety

At the start of each day, the guide will lead a review of the group’s condition and the condition of the surrounding the planned hike for the day. Complying with planned itinerary requires a consensus decision that all members of the group are capable of completing the planned hike. Adjustments will be made as required to ensure the safety of all members of the party. If the wellbeing of the group comes into jeopardy, the guide has the right and responsibility to make adjustments to the itinerary to ensure the safety of all members of the party. By participating in the guided hike, clients agree that the guide will make final decisions regarding group safety, and they agree to abide by the decisions made by the guide.

Safety Briefing Overview

Each participant will undergo a safety briefing prior to departure. This briefing will include general safety guidelines and Isle Royale-specific safety protocols, including but not limited to those listed below.

Hiking safety

All clients will wear appropriate footwear to avoid ankle sprains and other , such as blisters and abrasions.

Clients will hike on marked trails during the hike and camp at designated camping areas under direction of the WOMIR Guide to avoid unnecessary hazards.

Clients will provide rain gear and cold weather gear as outlined in the Gear Checklist supplied upon registration to guard against hypothermia.

Clients will remain with the group and not stray or become lost to avoid dangers due to being unaccompanied on unfamiliar trails.

Clients will provide adequate shelter from the elements in the form of a backpacking tent, an insulated sleeping pad, and a three-season (15 degree) sleeping bag.

In the event of evacuation of an injured or ill hiker, the group will accompany the guide who assists in the evacuation of the injured party to the pick-up location. No hiker will be abandoned or left behind on the trail. The itinerary will be amended to accommodate the needs of the injured party. No reimbursements will be provided in the event of an adjusted itinerary due to injury or accident

In the unlikely event of an injured or ill guide, the group will accompany the guide to the pick-up location. No hiker will be abandoned or left behind on the trail. The itinerary will be amended to accommodate the needs of the injured guide. Every effort will be made to provide a replacement guide, but if the itinerary cannot accommodate a replacement, the group will be evacuated.

For group safety, all members of the party will be briefed in how to activate the emergency beacon on the GPS device.

Water and Hydration Safety

All water outside the spigots at Rock Harbor and Windigo will be assumed to be contaminated and needing to be filtered and purified. As per CDC guidelines, clients will use a .4 or smaller water filtration system to process and chemical treatment to purify all water used during the hike, except potable water obtained from a spigot in Rock Harbor or Windigo. Each hiker needs to provide approved containers to carry a minimum of two quarts of water for their needs for hydration during hiking because of the distance between water sources on many parts of the trail. Choosing a water reservoir capable of carrying two quarts and a bottle capable of carrying an additional quart is optimum. Two one-quart Nalgene bottles or canteens is a sufficient option.

Hikers must beware of toxic water. According to the Greenstone: “Algal blooms have occurred in interior lakes and can be toxic. Purifying does not remove toxins from the water. Avoid drinking, swimming, and fishing if water has a cloudy blue cast or looks like ‘pea soup.’ If algal blooms occur, advisories will be posted” (2022, p. 4). Sometimes hikers come across toxic water prior to park service personnel. Therefore, group members will consult the guide prior to filtering from any water source.

Inclement Weather

In the event of inclement weather, the guide will reroute the group to avoid unreasonable exposure to risks. In the event of severe thunderstorms, routes to ascend the ridge will be amended to remain in unexposed areas. In addition, tent-preference policies may be adjusted to allow for the use of a shelter to provide greater protection from precipitation and wind. If shelters are used, the guide and group members will use facemasks as per Covid-19 safety protocols.

Emergency Preparedness

All Wise Old Man of Isle Royal guides are certified in Adult, Child, and Baby Heartsaver First Aid, CPR, and AED, and Food Handler Food Safety.

The Wise Old Man of Isle Royale guides carry an approved first aid kit. The WOM Guides follow the First Aid and Emergency Protocols as outlined below as per the American Red Cross First Responder training.

First Aid and Emergency Protocols

If illness occurs, the guide will check the nature of the illness and provide first aid as necessary and isolate the member from others in the group if a communicable illness is suspected. If the illness is sufficient to require greater care than minor first aid, the guide will contact IRNP personnel and arrange for evacuation of the client. If the illness appears to be life-threatening, the guide will use the SOS beacon on the GPS device to activate emergency procedures for evacuation of the client.

If an injury occurs, the guide will check the nature of the injury. If the client requires minor first aid, such as the application of antibacterial ointment and a bandage, first aid will be delivered. Minor injuries include minor blisters, abrasions, and scratches resulting from routine outdoor hiking.

If the care required is beyond basic first aid, the Guide will call the park service for assistance as per park policy. The Guide will follow the guidelines outlined by park staff upon reporting the accident. Care requiring attention beyond basic first aid includes apparent sprains, allergic reactions, and other non-life-threatening conditions.

In the event of a serious injury, the Guide will follow the check, call, care procedure as outlined in first responder training, and will report the accident to the Isle Royale National Park Service office. The Guide will assist in evacuation of the injured hiker.

In the event of accident or life-threatening condition, the guide will follow the check, call, care system outlined in first responder training and will utilize SOS beacon on the Garmin device to summon immediate support from emergency personnel.

All injuries and accidents will be reported as soon as possible to Isle Royale National Park (IRNP) personnel as required.

COVID-19 Operating Plan

Prior to Departure:

All persons contracting guide services from Wise Old Man of Isle Royale will be asked if they have experienced any of the Covid-19 symptoms within the past 24 hours, including the following:

  • Temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • Sore throat
  • Cough (for clients with chronic cough due to allergies or asthma, a change in their cough from baseline)
  • Difficulty breathing (for children with asthma, a change from their baseline breathing)
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • New onset of severe headache, especially with a fever
  • Are in quarantine due to exposure to an individual with a confirmed case of COVID-19 or
  • Have other signs of illness described in a camp’s health services policy.

Individuals experiencing these symptoms should stay home.

On the ferry: Masks are required while using public transportation. The ferry is public transportation, and its policy requires passengers to wear masks covering their nose and mouth at all times while on board, except for brief moments when eating or drinking.

During the Excursion:

All persons will observe the following requirements:

  •  avoid close contacts,
  • use good hygiene and health practices,
  • use excellent cleaning and disinfecting procedures, and
  • use appropriate patient care and evacuation.

1: Avoid “Close Contacts”

Close Contact Definition: any person who has spent 15 continuous minutes within 6 feet of a person with COVID19. The definition currently includes any close contact starting from 48 hours prior to the ill individual’s first symptoms and includes brief encounters in a 24-hour period totaling 15 minutes or more.

WOMIR prevents close contacts by appropriately structuring the size and composition of hiking parties and by providing guidance for maintaining separation while hiking and tenting.

Party Size and Composition

WOMIR limits the size of groups in a single party to five. Booking is done by single and double occupancy. Priority will be given to comprise groups of related individuals. Unrelated groups will be booked thus and separation among participants policies will be observed:

  • A group of four comprised two unrelated couples.
  • A group of five comprised of one two-person and one three-person group of related people

Separation among Participants

Close contact will be avoided by maintaining a separation among participants and groups of participants. These policies apply:

  • Family groups may hike in close contact but must maintain a six-foot distance from members of unrelated family groups.
  • Tent pads, rather than shelters, will be used to allow for the set-up of tents to provide appropriate distance among participants.
  • Unrelated individuals will use separate tents. Family groups may share a single tent, but for weight concerns backpackers will use a maximum size of a two- or three-person tent. Guides will help in gear distribution among party members for safe pack weights.  
  • When close contact is required by members of unrelated groups, face masks will be worn.

2: Encourage Good Hygiene & Employee Health

To prevent the spread of numerous illnesses, including Covid-19, simple mitigation practices will be followed:

  • Guides will model proper hand washing and hand sanitizer use.
  • Clients are encouraged to wash their hands and use hand sanitizer often, especially when using shared gear or facilities.
  • The safety briefing prior to departure will include materials on hand washing.
  • Guides will wear and model proper facemask usage as per CDC guidelines.
  • Clients will be required to wear facemasks when social distancing is not possible, when inside park buildings, and while in the pre-boarding area and aboard the ferry.

3: Use Excellent Cleaning & Disinfection Procedures

WOMIR requires guides to model and instruct participants cleaning and disinfecting procedures for kitchen gear, meal selection and preparation, and water purification.

  • Hand washing prior to food preparation and eating will be modeled and encouraged.
  • Proper cleaning of kitchen gear will be supported with the use of camp soap and appropriate rinsing to avoid contamination by contact with unfiltered or un-boiled water.
  • The use of pre-packaged, dehydrated meals will be recommended, reducing the risk of improperly stored or processed foods.
  • Guidance in the selection and use of appropriate water filtration and purification systems will follow CDC guidelines for a filter of .04 microns or smaller and the use of UV or chemical purification.

4: Considerations for Patient Care and Evacuation

WOMIR will provide a predeparture safety briefing that includes the symptoms of Covid-19 and encourage participants to self-monitor and report any symptoms to their guide who will implement Covid protocols to reduce communication of the virus.

  • Clients will self-monitor and report symptoms.
  • If symptoms are reported by any member of the party, the guide will isolate the individual from others in the party. The guide will monitor the individual for signs and symptoms and follow First Aid and Emergency Protocols as outlined above.
  • If the guide becomes ill, the guide will maintain social distance between him- or herself and other participants to ensure their safety. The guide will monitor him- or herself for signs and symptoms and follow First Aid and Emergency Protocols as outlined above.
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