Lifesaving and Meritorious Action awards

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Submit any questions or request for more information regarding the Lifesaving and Meritorious Action awards to [email protected]
These are the Lifesaving and Meritorious Action awards that may be awarded at any level in Scouting..
Boy Scouts can also earn the Lifesaving merit badge.
Venturers can also work on the Lifesaver Ranger Award elective.


The Lifesaving and Meritorious Action awards recognize registered youth and adults who have performed an attempt to save a life or to recognize notable acts of service that need not involve attempts of rescue or risk to self, but put into practice Scouting skills and/or ideals.

The first lifesaving awards were presented in 1919.

Lifesaving awards

Lifesaving awards


Medals (upper) and Square Knots (lower)
From left: Heroism Award, Honor Medal,
Honor Medal With Crossed Palms.
Created:Heroism Award: 1977 (retired late 2012;
reinstated February 2018)
Honor Medal: 1919 (as the Gold Honor Medal)
Honor Medal With Crossed Palms: 1919
Level:All BSA-registered youth and adults


Recognition may be given to a youth member or Scouter where the evidence presented to the local council, in accordance with the applicable guidelines, shows that he or she saved or attempted to save life under circumstances that indicate heroism and risk to self. The reviewing committee will give consideration to resourcefulness and to demonstrated skill in rescue methods. In no case may recognition be given where it appears that the risk involved was merely in the performance of duty or the meeting of an obligation because of responsibility to supervise and give leadership to the persons whose lives were saved. The awards are:

  1. Honor Medal With Crossed Palms — Square Knot: No. 5010
  2. Honor Medal — Square Knot: No. 5010
  3. Heroism Award — Square Knot: No. 5020

Meritorious Action awards

Meritorious Action awards


National Certificate of Merit
and Medal of Merit certificates (upper)
Medal of Merit medal and square knot (lower)
Created:
Level:All BSA-registered youth and adults

Recognition may be given to a youth member or adult leader where the evidence presented to the National Court of Honor, in accordance with prescribed regulations, shows that a significant or outstanding act of service, of an exceptional character, was performed. The action taken need not involve attempts of rescue or risk to self but must put into practice Scouting skills and/or ideals. Recognition shall not be given where it appears that the action involved was merely in the performance of duty or the meeting of an obligation. The awards are:


  1. Medal of Merit — Medal: No. 620561; Certificate: No. 646431; Square Knot: No. 5025
  2. National Certificate of Merit — Certificate: No. 636471


Lifesaving and Meritorious Action awards requirements

Lifesaving awards

  1. The Honor Medal With Crossed Palms may be awarded in exceptional cases to a youth member or adult leader who has demonstrated unusual heroism and extraordinary skill or resourcefulness in saving or attempting to save a life at extreme risk to self.
  2. The Honor Medal may be awarded to a youth member or adult leader who has demonstrated unusual heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save a life at considerable risk to self.
  3. The Heroism Award may be awarded to a youth member or adult leader who has demonstrated heroism and skill in saving or attempting to save life at minimal personal risk.[1]

Meritorious Action awards

  1. The Medal of Merit may be awarded to a youth member or adult leader who has performed an act of service of a rare or exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others.
  2. The National Certificate of Merit may be awarded to a youth member or adult leader who has performed a significant act of service that is deserving of special national recognition.

Footnotes

  1. The Heroism Award was retired in late 2012, but was reinstated by the National Court of Honor in February 2018; BSA reinstates Heroism Award, one of three national-level lifesaving awards; Bryan on Scouting blog post; August 29, 2018


The official source for the information shown in this article or section is:
Boy Scout Requirements, 2018 Edition (BSA Supply SKU #641568)

View the change list (history) of these requirements. The text of these requirements may be locked. In that case, they can only be edited
by an administrator.
Please note any errors found in the above requirements on this article's Talk Page.


Notes

The Heroism Award was retired in late 2012, but restored in February 2018.

After a review of the history of the lifesaving awards, including the application and actual processing of these three awards since 1977, it is the opinion of the National Court of Honor that the Heroism Award, should be retired, and the language of the Honor Medal and the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms be amended for the following reasons: (1) the current language of the three awards is confusing and unnecessarily overlapping; (2) the desire to recognize appropriate acts of heroism can be accomplished effectively using only the Honor Medal and the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms; (3) The Medal of Merit has been traditionally awarded where there is no risk to self.
Bryan on Scouting blog post (January 23, 2013)
Consider the list of awards above without the Heroism Award. You might notice a gap exists between the Medal of Merit and the Honor Medal. How can the BSA recognize someone who saves a life without risking his or her own? Perhaps the person performed lifesaving CPR. Maybe he or she stood on a riverbank and skillfully executed a throw bag rescue in Class III rapids.

“We found we were getting almost two out of three nominations where there was some risk to the person, but not, quote, ‘significant risk,'” the National Court of Honor member told me. “There’s a gap here, and that’s the reason there was a Heroism Award.”

The discontinuation of the Heroism Award was meant to simplify the process and eliminate “unnecessarily overlapping.” But in doing so it left that gap.

Bryan on Scouting blog post (August 29, 2018)

Nominating procedures

Each Council shall establish a Council Meritorious Action Awards Committee for the purpose of considering applications for award for the National Certificate of Merit or Medal of Merit for individuals registered with the Boy Scouts of America and residing within the council. Such committee shall consist of at least three and not more than five members to consider such applications and prepare recommendation for such applications by the Council Executive Board. The Council Executive Board shall consider and have authority for the final approval and/or denial of applications for National Certificate of Merit or Medal of Merit. No committee member shall consider an application for a family member of the same unit as the committee member.

If the local Council Meritorious Action Awards Committee and Council Executive Board are of the opinion that an application for the National Certificate of Merit or Medal of Merit should be upgraded to an application for the Heroism, Honor Medal, or the Honor Medal with Crossed Palms, it may refer the application, with a written letter of recommendation, to the National Court of Honor for consideration. Upon consideration, the National Court of Honor may grant the recommended upgrade of the application or return it to the Council Executive Board for consideration of a National Certificate of Merit or Medal of Merit.

Nomination forms will not be considered after a lapse of 36 months of the incident.

This application form must be used: Recommendation for Lifesaving or Meritorious Action Award Adobe Acrobat PDF (August 2018)

No case should be forwarded to the council without a signed statement from the nominee and eyewitness.

Lifesaving or meritorious actions performed as part of the line of duty of a trained lifesaver-i.e., doctor, nurse, lifeguard, first responder-will not be considered.

Boy Scouts of America employees are not eligible.

Separate nomination forms are required if more than one member is being recognized for recognition.

Note: If the action being considered is deserving of merit but does not qualify for a national award, the Local Council Certificate of Merit, No. 606760, is suitable for this purpose.

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