How the BSA recognizes attempts to save a life.
Scouts learn how to save a life with Scouting skills. When the training gets put to use, the BSA offers a trio of awards for heroism.
WHAT AWARDS DOES THE BSA PRESENT FOR HEROISM? Three awards are available to those who demonstrate heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life: the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms, the Honor Medal, and the Heroism Award.
WHAT’S THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THESE AWARDS? The Honor Medal with Crossed Palms recognizes actions that involve extreme risk to self. The Honor Medal recognizes actions that involve some risk to self. The Heroism Award recognizes actions that involve minimum risk to self; however, the Scout must put into practice Scouting skills and/or ideals.
HOW DOES THE BSA DEFINE ‘HEROISM’ AND ‘SKILL’? “Heroism” is defined as exhibiting courage, daring, skill, and self-sacrifice. “Skill” is defined as using one’s knowledge effectively in execution or performance of an action.
HOW RARE ARE THESE AWARDS? In 2011, the BSA awarded 13 Honor Medals with Crossed Palms, 31 Honor Medals, and 121 Heroism Awards.
MUST THE ATTEMPT TO SAVE A LIFE BE SUCCESSFUL? No, the awards recognize the attempt.
CAN BOTH YOUTH MEMBERS AND ADULT LEADERS RECEIVE THESE AWARDS? Yes.
WHAT ABOUT FAMILY MEMBERS OR SIBLINGS OF SCOUTS OR SCOUTERS? No, the recognitions are reserved for registered members.
WHAT ABOUT SCOUTERS WHO ARE TRAINED FIRST RESPONDERS? Lifesaving actions performed as part of the duty of a trained lifesaver—such as a doctor or nurse—will not be considered. However, some situations—say, when a doctor is off duty and uses his skills to save a life—may qualify.
CAN MORE THAN ONE MEMBER BE RECOGNIZED FOR THE SAME INCIDENT? Yes. A separate application is required.
WHO APPROVES THE NOMINATIONS FOR THESE AWARDS? The National Court of Honor.
HOW CAN I NOMINATE SOMEONE? The Lifesaving or Meritorious Action Award nomination form can be found at scouting.org/awards_central.
Contact your council advancement committee or volunteer recognition committee. That committee must investigate the case, interview the principals and witnesses, secure signed statements, and make a recommendation within 30 days of the recommendation.
WHAT IF WITNESSES ARE NOT AVAILABLE? No nomination form should be forwarded without a signed statement from the applicant and at least one eyewitness.
CAN A MEMBER SELF-NOMINATE? No.
IS THERE A DEADLINE FOR MAKING A NOMINATION? No application may be considered after a lapse of six months from the incident without a written explanation from the Scout executive or adviser to the council committee. No application may be considered after a lapse of 12 months of the incident.
WHAT RECOGNITION ITEMS ARE AVAILABLE? (See photo above.) Recipients of the Honor Medal receive a medal with a red ribbon and pendant, as well as an embroidered red knot on a tan background (No. 05010). A small metal device indicates that the medal was earned with crossed palms. Recipients of the Heroism Award receive a medal with a white and red ribbon and pendant, as well as an embroidered red knot on white twill (No. 05020). The medals are worn above the left uniform pocket on formal occasions; the square knots are sewn above the left pocket for everyday wear.