Safety & Risk Management

One of the most valuable assets of wilderness as a treatment environment is isolation. However, that is also the greatest liability. Safety is the number one concern of most parents. It’s our first priority as well.

Because wilderness therapy programs operate in remote areas they require administrative sophistication and logistical support in order to meet the individual needs of troubled teens and do it in a safe manner.

For almost 20 years we have designed our therapeutic and operational protocols  to not only meet and accommodate the needs of the present but to anticipate and prepare for events that could occur in the future – whether those events are environmental or behavioral.

RedCliff Ascent has one of the best safety records in the wilderness therapy industry. Our 20 Safety Protocols include:

  • We are licensed and regulated by the State of Utah Department of Human Services.
  • Our student to staff ratio is one to four. Generally, it is one to three, even lower than that required by law.
  • Our wilderness therapy staff are certified in First Aid and CPR.  Field staff are also certified in what is known as PCS – or Positive Control Systems. All Head Instructors are certified Wilderness First Responders.
  • 67% of our field staff are college graduates.
  • All field staff must complete a rigorous 9-day wilderness therapy field interview and a three week internship prior to their employment. The field interview includes wilderness living skills. Field interns must complete the same curriculum as our students.
  • Field staff receive weekly clinical training in the developmental hiatus philosophy as well as the language of Ego States.
  • All staff are randomly drug tested throughout their employment and must pass a background check prior to hire. RedCliff wilderness therapy uses a more accurate and comprehensive urine test for drug screening.
  • Upon intake, each troubled teen is drug tested and examined by a pediatrician.
  • Our medical director communicates with parents as often as needed to discuss specific health concerns for individual teens or any health related conditions that may arise.
  • A registered nurse or emergency medical technician visits students in the field every 7 days.  A medical assessment is completed every 14 days to address any health complaints or concerns. Teens are weighed, blood pressure taken, and a general health assessment is completed.
  • Any medical or behavioral concerns are related to RedCliff headquarters at least twice daily.  Field staff are instructed to call anytime there is a concern.
  • Teens learn and must demonstrate basic first aid and safety skills.
  • The first three days of a student’s enrollment at RedCliff are spent becoming acclimated to the altitude and environment with no strenuous physical activity.
  • Students are provided a 3,000 calorie diet each day which has been developed in consultation with a nutritionist. This diet includes whole grains, dehydrated and fresh vegetables, fruits, and a fruit and nut trail mix.  In addition, students eat tuna fish, peanut butter, and cheese. Students are also offered a daily multi-vitamin and electrolytes when applicable.
  • Teens are required to drink a specific amount of water each day. The amount varies depending upon the time of year and temperature.
  • A registered nurse or emergency medical technician tracks each student’s Body Mass Index (BMI) from the day the teen enters the program until graduation.
  • Our Outpost wilderness therapy facility offers field groups emergency shelter and food. The facility covers 168 acres in the center of our field operation.  Outpost is always stocked with food, fresh water, blankets, and clothing.  An on-site support staff is often just minutes away from responding to field groups.
  • Student apparel and sleeping bags are mountaineering quality and appropriate to weather conditions. Sleeping bags are exchanged three times yearly and range in temperature ratings from 20 degrees below zero to 20 degrees above.  Teens typically dress in several layers of clothing to provide protection from wet and cold.  Hats and boots are worn throughout the year.
  • Field instructors remain in radio contact with RedCliff base at all times. Staff are required to call into headquarters at least two times each day using two-way radios.  Instructors report GPS coordinates, staff or student needs, temperature and weather conditions, and any changes in itinerary. If two consecutive calls are missed a search is automatically initiated.
  • All RedCliff wilderness therapy clinicians are licensed doctorate and masters level therapists. They meet weekly with students in the field to assess student behaviors and provide the most effective therapeutic intervention possible.

Besides these 20 Safety Protocols, RedCliff has established and Incident Review Committee, or IRC.

The IRC was formed almost a decade ago to review and manage risks on a weekly basis. Every seven days this committee of veteran field and administrative personnel examine the cause, severity, and possible prevention of any incident.

If an incident is determined to have been preventable, the IRC determines the best course of action to prevent similar incidents. These actions could include retraining, policy changes, disciplinary actions, or termination from program.

Please explore our website or call an admissions counselor at 801-921-8488 for additional information about how RedCliff Ascent can help your family.