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How We Keep Students Safe During the Himalayan Mountain Challenge Program
Category Experiential Learning Outdoor Leadership Program Collaborative Leadership Program
By Izzat Yaganagi
A common question asked is, how do we keep your students safe in the Himalayan Mountain Challenge program.
To answer this we need to give you a bit of a background.
Indiahikes is India’s largest and safest trekking organization. More than 20,000 trekkers trek with us every year. They do so not because we are the largest but because of our legacy.
Indiahikes has defined the safety norms for trekking in our country. We have brought in most of the safety systems, protocols and equipment that are now considered the standard requirement for safe trekking.
Our Experience with Students
Since 2012 we have had more than 4,000 students from the top IIMs of our country with us on the Himalayan Mountain Challenge Program. We have never had any trouble so far, though most of these students had never trekked before and none of them were accustomed to such an environment.
We begin interactions with students a month in advance to prepare them physically and mentally for the program. Many issues that can arise from lack of preparation are taken care of through these interactions.
Indiahikes Safety Mechanism
The mechanism of safety that we follow is very important for you to know. For this we need to take you through the 3 pillars that uphold safety on all our treks — it stands on:
(1) The people who run the program
(2) Our safety processes
(3) Our high end safety equipment
Outside the facilitators, their fellow members, our Trek Leaders play a pivotal role in keeping your students safe on the trek. It is not easy to be a Trek Leader with Indiahikes. There is a long, stringent and a difficult selection process.
After this they undergo a rigorous 8 month induction and training program before they are certified as Trek Leaders at Indiahikes. Only those Trek Leaders who are the best of our team are selected to lead the Himalayan Mountain Challenge.
All our Trek Leaders are certified mountaineers with a Basic Mountaineering Course or Advanced Mountaineering Course. Among them, the ones who are Wilderness First Responders (NOLS-certified) are assigned to lead your students.
Apart from the Trek Leaders we have technical guides, trek guides, program facilitators and assistants who accompany the students. All of them are given specialised training in handling emergency mountain situations. If a situation arises, anyone of our team members will be able to evacuate your students to safety even in the middle of the night.
Ultimately, even an expert team such as ours cannot keep your students safe unless they follow stringent safety processes. These are processes that have been developed by us for over ten years. They have been put in place after considering every scenario and evaluating every risk of a trek.
Our risk assessment and management systems are extensive and deep, as you will discover when you sign up with us. There is a process for preparing students, a process to monitor the health of students 3 times a day, a process for management of accidents, a process for managing altitude sickness, a process for evacuation. There are processes for even trekking, and a separate process for difficult sections. Any potential risk is nipped in the bud.
Our extensive trek experience matters here. The trekking trails your students trek on are not new to us. These trekking trails have been nurtured and developed by us for many years. We have our own base camps on these trails.
From the time we pick up your students till they return back to the town, they are our responsibility.
On the trek we have a staff to student ratio of 1:5. Which means for every 5 students of your institute, there is an Indiahikes staff monitoring them closely. Students’ health is monitored 2-3 times a day.
Our Safety Equipment:
Most of the modern safety equipment used in the Indian trekking community has been introduced by us. This has fundamentally changed how trekking is done in our country.
In all of our treks, we carry a high altitude medical kit, an evacuation kit, a technical kit, radio equipment and oxygen cylinders (pulse oximeters and BP monitors are standard equipment carried by our Trek Leaders, including ropes and carabiners).
These three pillars together — people, processes and equipment — keep your students safe on our programs.
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