Safety Officer
JULY 29, 1997

Rainbow Gathering
Safety Report
June 13, 1997 - July 10, 1997
Prepared By: David Summer - Safety Officer


This assignment, without a doubt, was the most complex, challenging and thought provoking assignment in my whole career. Our greatest successes were in the form of community based solutions. Our greatest challenges were in the form of internal conflict and direction.

This assignment will probably be framed as a debate between an authorized recreation event versus an event that is ill It might to framed as a debate between a law enforcement operation or a resource operation. the issue goes much deeper submit this assignment is about the foundamental issues of values. A day never went by when the team was not torn in our approach or methodology over values.

Think for-a minute, when no we sit down and discuss and listen to the values of our employees or as a team let alone the agency's philosophy. How do we share these core values with our local communities? How do we share these core values with our cooperators? How do we incorporate the values of a community into our operation?

At the onset of this assignment, we did not have a clear and common understanding to our role and purpose. We lived with this uncertainity and performed our jobs as professionally as possible. At times our behavior was exclusive instead of inclusive and a price was paid. The skills in relationship building were essential to assure success. Constant feedback and involvement of key players is essential. Verbal communications is a key with the Rainbows and not a "permit. " Keeping the community informed and involved is extremely important and requires a great deal of care and feeding.

If safety and service is in fact our highest priorities for the management of the Rainbow Gathering in the future, I would recommend some changes and we must learn from the past to move more effectively and responsibly into the future. Enclosed our several summaries which help capture the 1997 Rainbow Gathering held on the Ochoco National Forest.

Safety Critique and Recommendations


1. First and foremost, the cooperation we received from the community was outstanding

2. The medical community deserves the highest marks for services rendered and the treatment of people with respect. Special recognition is being given to the Prineville Fire Department, Pioneer Memorial Hospital and St. Charles Medical Center.

3. In addition, the State of Oregon - Health Division did a fantastic job dealing with all of the health related challenges and are also getting special recognition.

4. With the safety record accomplished, all should take pride in doing a job well done.

5. The cooperation from the Rainbow Family was really remarkable dealing with public safety issues, parking, medical support, water and sanitation concerns.

6. Our law enforcement cooperators and especially the State of Oregon, deserve a special thanks for a professional job and their efforts did make a significant difference to our safety record.


1. Our best examples of success with the management of the event have one major theme in common, local community based solutions.... Consider the success of the district personnel working with the Family. Consider the success of the medical unit which came from the community as their answer to the medical challenges. Consider the success of the law enforcement cooperators and their added value to the management of the event. Consider the local social services organizations, the local churches, the local mental health organizations, the local media, the local emergency management organizations and you will find solutions.

2. Our best examples of success with the Rainbow Family came from honest and truthful communications. It is our spoken word and not the written word that makes a difference while managing the event. It is the relationships built that brings compliance.

3. We should provide for the next incident team the time to talk about values and have a professional work with the team before they are called into action. The Rainbow Family has been able to have 26 national gatherings and one would think we should be very capable of effectively and efficiently managing the gathering.

4. I personally believe that we had too many personnel assigned this event. I would have no problem that personnel could be reduced in excess of 30% and the event would still have a very successful safety record. I would prioritize the use of local resources to the extent possible and not bring in members from all over the country with a minor exception and that would be some key leadership positions.

5. I would recommend that this event be an authorized gathering and be accepted for what it is and work to make it successful. Success should be measured in reduced costs to taxpayers, maintain environmental integrity, reduce the "fear" associated with the gathering and build an expectation of respect for people.

6. I would recommend that key positions from this team spend a couple days with next year's organization and serve as coaches so we build on our successes.

7. The Washington Office must redeem its responsibility and provide clear direction and expectations.

8. Law enforcement briefings should not exclude command staff.

9. Radio and communication systems must be upgraded to current industry standards.

10. Members of the team should recognize the time commitment of approximately 30 days for key positions.

11. Law enforcement presence is very important in the community, travel routes to the gathering, A-Camp and Bus Village.

12. Resource presence is very important in the location of all infrastructures ie parking, water systems, sanitation and travel routes.

13. It is really important to build and understand the relationships with the key players in the community in the event that there is a major problem ie impact to the hospital or local jail facility.

14. It is really important to build and understand the relationships with the key players in the state and federal organizations who may need to be a part of the management of the gathering in case extraordinary factors. In our event, we had tremendous support and interest from state and federal agencies involved in emergency services including the National Guard.

My final thought comes from my heart and reflecting on the past two months I think about a group of people numbering in excess of 20,000 came to their National Forest. Their fundamental interests were well intended and that was to have a peaceful and loving gathering of the Rainbow Family. Whether we understand or agree is not the question to me but more importantly are we willing to respect and value their interest in using their National Forest. Our leadership should really ask themselves the following question, How can we manage this event on National Forests more efficiently and effectively? Will the changes we agree to lead to a more successful gathering and if, so how do we measure the success?

We need to build on the many successes we had with the members of the Rainbow Family. We need to have one strategy which all members of the incident team, forest, region and national office understand and are committed. Simply put we need to be focused and good things will happen.

A Little About the Numbers....
Data Provided from our Cooperators

Incident Team and Assigned Personnel:

We had no chargeable accidents or injuries

Medical Unit:

We assisted in a total of 101 cases involving Rainbows over the 11 days it was open, this included 97 people and four dogs.
Most frequent injury lacerations/abrasions totaling 29 cases.
We had 10 cases referred to the local hospital which were significant
3 of the above 10 cases were transported by ambulance

Prineville Fire Department:

(Information received from PFD includes activity through July 22, 1997)

A total of 22 calls were made to assist the rainbow family gathering
General Medical 2
Cardiac Related 1
Motor Vehicle Accident2
Other Trauma 3
Death due to Trauma 1
Known HIV+ 2
No patient/Dry Run 3

Pioneer Memorial Hospital - Emergency Department

A total of 74 patient identified as attending the Rainbow Gathering were seen in the emergency department.
# of patients initially seen at Medical Unit and referred. 7
# of ambulance transport from Medical Unit 3
# of ambulance transports prior to Medical Unit established3
# of patients referred from Medical Unit and admitted to PMH2
# of patients admitted to PMH prior to establishing Medical Unit2
# of patients transferred and admitted to St Charles Medical Center1

The 1997 Rainbow Gathering
Estimated Population
RainbowsUSFS Personnel Cooperators
June 13, 19971,00023 1
June 14, 19971,000
June 15, 19971,500
June 16, 19972,000
June 17, 19972,000
June 18, 19972,500
June 19, 19973,000
June 20, 19974,000
June 21, 19975,000
June 22, 19976,000
June 23, 19976,500
June 24, 19977,000
June 25, 19977,500
June 26, 19978,000
June 27, 19979,000
June 28, 19979,0006226
June 29, 19979,0006226
June 30, 199710,0006226
July 01, 199712,0006427 (54 LE & 37 OH)
July 02, 199716.0006427
July 03, 199720,0006228
July 04, 199725,0006228
July 05, 199721,0006228
July 06, 199716,0006228
July 07, 19979,0004525
July 08, 19974,0004116
July 09, 19971,500126
July 10, 19971,000126

*** The largest workforce was on July 1 and 2, 1997 when we had 91 personnel assigned with 54 people assigned law enforcement functions and 37 people assigned other overhead and resource functions. ***