State Camp Safety Advisory Council (SCSAC) April 30, 2008 Meeting Minutes

Roll Call

Members Present

  • Sheila Cohen
  • George G. Coleman
  • Jordan Dale
  • Dawn Ewing
  • Robert Geraci
  • Douglas Pierce
  • Judith H. Reilly

Members Absent

  • Robert Scheinfeld and one vacant position

Department of Health (DOH) Staff Present

  • Michael Cambridge, DOH - Bureau of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection (BCEHFP)
  • Douglas Sackett, DOH - BCEHFP
  • Timothy Shay, DOH - BCEHFP
  • Bruce Phillips, DOH - Div. of Legal Affairs
  • James Maurer, DOH - BCEHFP
  • Melissa Brewer, DOH - BCEHFP
  • Phil Mrozek, DOH - BCEHFP
  • Amanda Long, DOH - BCEHFP
  • Dr. Bryan Cherry, DOH - Bureau of Communicable Disease Control

Chairperson Jordan Dale called the meeting to order at 10:30 a.m. in the 4th floor conference room, 547 River Street, Troy, New York. Mr. Shay called the roll; Robert Scheinfeld was not present and there was one vacant position.

The minutes from the December 11, 2007 SCSAC meeting were unanimously approved.

The Council accepted a request to move Dr. Cherry's presentation ahead of the remaining agenda items.

Rabies Advisory – Potential Vaccine Shortage Presentation:

At the Council's request, Dr. Brian Cherry, Deputy State Public Health Veterinarian, from DOH's Bureau of Communicable Disease Control Zoonoses Program presented on "Rabies Advisory – Potential Vaccine Shortage." Dr. Cherry provided an overview of human rabies exposures and cases nationwide and in New York State since 1990. He said it was very important in bat-related incidents to attempt to capture the bat and submit it for testing. Ninety-six percent of bats submitted to the DOH Wadsworth Lab test negative for rabies; therefore, bat testing after potential exposure can greatly reduce the need for post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP). Submittal of bats for testing to determine the need for PEP in bat exposure incidents will be especially important this summer because of a shortage of biologics nationwide. Bat exposure incidents at children's camps frequently involve a bat found in a bunkhouse or other group location, and providing PEP to a group of people would stress the supply further. This reinforces the need to test the bat to determine if PEP is needed.

Dr. Cherry said the Zoonoses Program would continue to work with the Bureau of Community Environmental Health and Food Protection (BCEHFP) and the Council as needed. Mr. Coleman stressed that the information presented should be also be provided to the public. Mr. Shay reported a general decrease in the number of bat exposures at children's camps over the past several years, which has resulted in fewer campers and staff requiring PEP. Dr. Cherry said the Zoonoses Program has a biologist on staff that can conduct site visits at locations where people have had trouble implementing bat exclusion measures. Mr. Geraci asked if the large bat die-off that occurred during the winter was expected to lead to fewer bat incidents in the upcoming summer. Dr. Cherry responded that the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is unsure what impact the population decline may have.

Old business

Bylaws – Article VI (Committees)

The Division of Legal Affairs (DLA) advised the Council that only Council members may serve on a committee. Mr. Dale moved to approve the Bylaws with inclusion of the statement "The only persons eligible to serve on a committee are current Council members." The Council unanimously approved the Bylaws with the inclusion, and stressed that the public will still have a role in the process as committee members may solicit input from outside parties.

Distribution of the Meeting Minutes to Interested Parties

The DLA advised the Council that draft minutes of meetings cannot be released to the public until approval of the minutes during an open meeting prior to distribution. The Council discussed the importance of transparency and considered two alternatives for releasing minutes to the public. Mr. Coleman proposed giving "draft approval" to minutes via email and releasing them to the public prior to the next meeting. Mr. Dale proposed that the Council draft "unofficial" minutes after each meeting to release to the public. Ms. Reilly said she would not feel comfortable working outside the system and circulating unapproved minutes, but reminded the Council and Department that webcasting meetings, which the Council is no longer required to do, was intended to increase governmental transparency.

The discussion concluded with the Council re-stating its desire to inform the public about the discussion of the past meeting prior to the next meeting. The BCEFHP will continue to explore options for distributing the minutes prior to Council approval and will inform the Council of any alternative procedure for distributing meeting minutes at the next meeting.

Status of Amendments to Subpart 7-2 of the NYS Sanitary Code

Mr. Shay provided an overview of the status of the proposed amendments to Subpart 7-2. The Department is proposing the following three changes to the amendments:

  1. The addition which specified that an Aquatics Director must have training in NYS children's camp bathing regulations was removed, since all children's camp staff are already mandated to have training to implement DOH regulations.
  2. A proposed amendment was added to provide an alternative to an existing requirement for camps to provide a lifeguard on trips to lifeguarded bathing facilities. There will be standards for camp staff training instead of lifeguarding.
  3. An exclusion of pre-college programs that provide college level educational programs operated by accredited colleges subject to oversight by the New York State Regents Board was added to exemptions specified in the applicability section.

The Council had no objections to the revisions, and said the camp trip swimming amendment would be helpful for camps without aquatic facilities or lifeguards. They inquired about a time frame for the proposed amendments; Mr. Shay responded that the amendments were projected to be in effect for the 2009 camp season, and an updated timetable would be sent to the Council.

Mr. Shay stated that information pertaining to amendments would be sent for comment to local health departments and interested parties.

Written Safety Plan Guide Status

Mr. Shay provided the Council with an overview of the new templates for the swimming pool, bathing beach, and spray ground safety plans. The new safety plan template is in an interactive format (allows for filling in information directly on the form) that incorporates guidance for operators directly into the plan. The new format will streamline review and approval by LHDs and allow for statewide consistency in safety plan review. BCEFHP will use a similar format for the children's camp safety plan.

The Council was impressed with the new format and its usability, and asked about a timeline for release of the Children's Camps Safety Plan template. BCEFHP expects to have the template available for comment in the fall of 2008 and available for camp use by the 2009 camp season. Camps will not be required to resubmit approved existing safety plans in the new format.

Day Camp Definition

Mr. Shay discussed the Department's response to Mr. Dale's letter to Commissioner Daines, which detailed the Council's recommendations for revisions to the Public Health Law (PHL) and Subpart 7-2 to address "indoor camps" and other exclusions to the children's camp regulation. Nancy Kim, Ph.D., Interim Director of the Center for Environmental Health responded on behalf of the Commissioner and indicated BCEFHP would be identifying possible revisions which would require regulation of day programs based on risk and exposure. At this time revisions to the code's applicability section are not anticipated for single purpose day programs (such as soccer programs) and "drop-in" programs.

The Council discussed the acceptability of not regulating single-purpose day programs and "drop-in" programs, and concluded that the regulation of "drop-in" sessions was not a critical issue since many are municipal programs under town Parks & Recreation oversight. The Council decided that it was important to regulate single purpose activity programs as day camps and that they should continue with efforts to persuade the Department to do so.

Mr. Cambridge suggested the Council respond to Dr. Kim's letter and request that single-purpose day programs be regulated in addition to "indoor" day camps. Mr. Dale will draft the response and circulate it to the Council and BCEFHP for comment. Ms. Ewing suggested to the Council that, regardless of the outcome, the public should be educated about the types of programs that are regulated as camps. Mr. Cambridge said the Department was recently approached by the NYS Consumer Protection Board to explore how the two could work together to educate consumers.

2007 Injury/Illness Charts, Graphs, and Trends

Mr. Shay provided an overview of the reportable injury and illness incidents at children's camps in 2007. It was the second consecutive year with no reports of falls from bunk beds while sleeping. Ms. Ewing said one injury type that should be watched closely is camper to camper abuse. BCEFHP staff are looking for solutions to this issue and noted that these incidents can indicate problems with supervision.

Medical Issues

  • Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) at Children's Camps – In response to a request by the Council for background information, Mr. Shay gave an overview of the BCEHFP's findings concerning State Laws and the thresholds which require AEDs in other settings. Mr. Shay reported that after consulting with the Bureau of Emergency Management Services (BEMS), he found no common thresholds for the activity type or number of people where an AED would be required.

    The Council discussed whether AEDs should be mandated at camps, including the potential for bulk purchasing programs for AEDs and allowing camps to apply for waivers. Ms. Reilly said given that two of the three fatalities at children's camps in 2007 were from undiagnosed heart conditions there is a real need for camps to have AEDs. The Council decided to form a committee to discuss the issue in more detail. Ms. Reilly, Ms. Ewing, and Mr. Coleman volunteered to be members; Mr. Scheinfeld was nominated to chair the committee and will be asked if he is willing to do so.

    The Council recommended conducting a survey to determine the number of camps with an AED on site. Mr. Shay said camps with an AED that have complied with PHL should be in the BEMS AED program. It may not be easy to gather data about camps that are not registered with BEMS, but BCEHFP will look into working with the Department's Outreach and Education Bureau to conduct a survey.

  • Strategy for Implementing the SCSAC Medical Services recommendations – Mr. Shay said BCEFHP is finalizing the DOH "white paper" for internal Department use, which may request the formation of a committee to assess Subpart 7-2 medical requirements and the Council's Medical Services recommendations. A copy of the white paper will be sent to the Council.

New business

Camp Lifeguard Age Requirements

Audience member, Al Cahill of the BSA discussed the difficulty in finding lifeguards to work at BSA facilities. He said many lifeguards are trained at age 15, but because of SSC requirements, they cannot work until age 16, at which point the regulation only allows 20% of the required lifeguards on-duty to be 16 years old; the rest must be older. He proposed a modification to the regulation to allow for more 16 year-old lifeguards. Many lifeguards trained at Boy Scout camps want to return the next summer to work as lifeguards, but often cannot because of the regulation.

After discussion, the Council thought that a change in the lifeguard age requirement could be considered in light of the new Aquatics Director requirements, except that the minimum age for a lifeguard in the wilderness setting should not be changed. Mr. Coleman moved that the Council recommend to DOH that Subpart 7-2 be amended to remove the 20% requirement. The motion was carried unanimously, with a note to ask for Mr. Scheinfeld's input. Mr. Shay will draft language for the proposed amendment.

State Sex Offender Registry Checks – Revised Procedures

Mr. Shay reported that the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) has revised its procedures and now accepts requests for name searches by compact disc (CD). BCEFHP is recommending that camps submit names by CD as these requests will be given priority. DCJS will still accept requests for searches by fax, mail or telephone; however, requests submitted by mail or fax are taking 5-6 weeks to process, whereas requests submitted by CD are taking 1-2 days. DCJS is exploring the option of allowing lists to be submitted via email; BCEFHP will revise their fact sheet after DCJS makes this decision.

Mr. Dale inquired about the status of the open seat on the Council. Mr. Sackett reported that names of nominees for the open seat were sent to the Governor's Office in January along with Ms. Reilly's and Mr. Coleman's names for reappointment, and he has been informed that the matter is in process.

There were no proposed agenda topics for the upcoming meeting. The Council adjourned at 2:04 PM after tentatively scheduling the next Council meeting for Wednesday, November 5, 2008. Post meeting note: Due to scheduling conflicts, the next meeting was rescheduled for Wednesday, November 12, 2008.