Black Rock City is a frontier town located in a very inhospitable environment. Community resources are limited. We provide emergency medical treatment and an evacuation service, but the nearest hospital is 100 miles away. Multitudes of people travel long distances by car and by plane to experience Burning Man, and this journey is not without risk. During the past ten years, a very few participants have died in traffic accidents while making their way to and from the Black Rock Desert. This has happened just outside of our gate, and it has happened as far away as a thousand miles.
In 2001, there were three deaths associated with the event. The first fatality was a DPW volunteer who died in a motor vehicle accident on the highway a few days before the event. The second was a participant who chose to run into a fire. The third involved a motor vehicle accident on Highway 447 that occurred during Sunday night departure. The Nevada Highway Patrol briefly closed the Black Rock City exit road during their investigation. The loss of these lives is a tragedy and this community mourns their passing.
In 2002, we plan to do more to educate participants about the hazards of travel. A new feature of our annual Survival Guide will provide participants with more information about how to load vehicles and tow trailers. Our current survival guide discusses highway safety in Black Rock Country, but many of our participants are unaccustomed to cross-country travel. Long driving times, narrow country highways, cows and wildlife that stray onto these roadways, and high winds represent real survival challenges. In 2002, we plan to use the Jack Rabbit Speaks, our online Internet newsletter, to remind and educate people about potential travel hazards.
In Black Rock City, we take reasonable steps to protect our citizens. In addition to providing emergency medical services, we create standards for burning, erect public burn platforms, and inspect our city for safety hazards. At the same time, however, we encourage freedom and self-expression. Our participants create Black Rock City and assume a fundamental risk when they attend the event. The safety of our community therefore depends on the awareness of each individual.