The Northern Hemisphere summer is typically known as “conference season” and is the opportunity for academic research to be shared, discussed, challenged and ultimately, improved. This year, Paul Salmon and Clare Dallat headed north to present at both the 7th International Outdoor Education Research Conference, hosted by Cape Breton University, Canada; followed by the Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics Conference, in Orlando, Florida.
At the International Outdoor Education Research conference, Canada, the UPLOADS project was well received. Clare presented an overview of the design of her PhD risk assessment method, NO-HARMS (National Outdoor Hazard Assessment and Risk Management System), which uses several human factors methods to first understand the tasks involved in the design, planning, delivery and review of a led outdoor program and then secondly, to identify and assess the network of foreseeable risks involved.
Paul presented the results of the first 12 months UPLOADS study. The findings generated excellent discussion amongst international colleagues, including for example, why 16 year old females presented as the most frequently injured demographic and why activities such as walking/running outdoors and campcraft had the highest incidence rates.
Our fellow delegates impressed upon us that the project’s researchers, sponsors, and the Australian led outdoor activity sector had achieved something very unique together in the creation of the UPLOADS project. In fact, many doubted that such a partnership could be achieved in their home countries.
The IOER conference was a great platform for us to share our research with our international colleagues. It concluded very favourably for Australia, and for the University of the Sunshine Coast in particular, with the announcement that the next conference will take place on our home campus in 2018. Well done to Glyn Thomas for achieving this excellent honour!
Whilst at the IOER conference, we connected with a true legend in the outdoors within North America, TA Loeffler. TA kindly offered us a quick lesson on how to pronounce the name of the eastern most Canadian province correctly, as Memorial University, Newfoundland (“understand Newfoundland”) was the next stop on our tour. Upon our arrival, Clare felt very much at home surrounded by the local accent which closely resembled a thick Irish brogue. While at Memorial University we presented the UPLOADS project and its findings to various research groups and provided an open seminar for the general university community. Once again the project was received with positive enthusiasm, generating many thought provoking discussions.
TA is a professor within the School of Human Kinetics and Recreation at Memorial University and kindly showed us around the university including one of their abseil sites; a beautiful coastal crag abutting the Atlantic Ocean. It was on this day that we spotted our first iceberg!
An absolute highlight from our time in Newfoundland was the opportunity to discuss future collaborations with teams such as the Offshore Safety and Survival Centre (OSSC).
Excitingly, this also included a day trip to their purpose built offshore safety and emergency response training course, which was equipped with a large survival tank, state of the art helicopter underwater escape trainer, fire grounds, helicopter simulators and world class instructors. We look forward to opportunities to share and collaborate further in the future.
Heading Stateside with UPLOADS
On our way south, we took the opportunity to visit Clare’s old stomping ground, Frost Valley YMCA, while it was right in the throes of Summer Camp. Some 30,000 participants attend annually, and when the summer months are over, is also a year-round environmental education centre. Here, we met with staff and were able to see for ourselves how risk was managed at one of the largest outdoor and environmental centres in North America. Again, UPLOADS was of major interest.
While in the states, we also took the opportunity to visit and collaborate with Preston Cline. Preston first came to Australia to conduct risk management audits and provide training based on his vast risk and educational knowledge. It was wonderful to catch up with Preston, a man who has made a huge contribution to stretching the status quo in led outdoor activity risk management.
After reaching our final destination at Disney World, Florida, we joined almost 2000 delegates at the Applied Human Factors and Ergonomics conference. The AHFE conference is a respected international forum for the dissemination and exchange of information on theoretical, generic, and applied areas of human factors and ergonomics.
Paul and Clare gave a half-day tutorial in accident analysis methods to delegates from all over the world, from backgrounds such as airline pilots and crash investigators, nuclear decommissioning and clean up experts, healthcare managers and WHS professors. UPLOADS, NO-HARMS and a paper written by PhD candidate, Tony Carden on better understanding the complexity associated with safety in the led outdoor activity sector, were also presented.
After four long weeks on the road and way too many Holiday Inn garden omelettes, we came away with great ideas, valued feedback and with many wonderful opportunities for further collaboration.
The trip provided valuable insights into both research and practice – a vital component for achieving success in any project. With renewed energy and a true belief in the value of a project that commenced several years ago from the ground up, we look forward to growing the UPLOADS project even more.