Boy Scout training in first aid and survival skills paid off last night, as association leaders say the young men who were at the western Iowa camp that was hit by a tornado were able to rescue and treat each other until emergency crews arrived. Lloyd Roitstein, executive director of the Mid American Boy Scout Council, confirms four Scouts were killed, 48 Scouts and adult leaders were injured.Roitstein says: “Today is a tragic day for Scouting. We want to express our deepest sympathies to the families and to all those affected by this tragedy. Also, we want to thank the overwhelming support from the community.”
Roitstein says the Scouts had recently been trained for saving lives in severe weather. “The day before this emergency, they had a tornado drill and an emergency drill and learned what to do,” he says. “That day, they were out there practicing first aid, saving their friends, saving other scouters, saving the life of our camp director who was under his house and they did a tremendous job.”
Roitstein says none of the buildings at Little Sioux Scout Ranch in Harrison County were meant to be used as storm shelters. He says, “Absolutely not. This is a ‘high adventure’ camp and to the Scouts who go to this camp, it’s mostly wilderness. It’s 18-hundred acres of wilderness, 30 miles of trails, they sleep in tents, they rough it.”
He says the Scouts are well trained and he’s proud of their quick and selfless reactions. “We teach the Scouts when they’re in the wilderness what to do, where to go in case there’s a storm, but there was no building that could withstand the force of that tornado that hit — no way to prepare for that,” he says.
Of those killed, three of the boys were 13-year-old scouts, one was a 14-year-old youth staff leader. Three of the dead were from Omaha, one was from Eagle Grove, Iowa.