Liability and Risk when Volunteering with Zendo Project
Psychedelic peer support is an essential component for ensuring the well-being of guests at events and festivals, but it is important to acknowledge that it comes with some risks. Below, we cover a few topics regarding risk and liability for Zendo Project volunteers; as well as the protocols in place to reduce risk and protect our volunteers and guests.
To protect our volunteers and staff, Zendo Project carries General and Professional Liability insurance.
When Zendo Project is at Burning Man, as a contractor of Burning Man Org, Zendo is also covered by Burning Man’s ticket liability waiver.
Risk of Personal Liability to Volunteers
Because of Zendo’s insurance and safety protocols, the risk of personal liability to volunteers is low. Moreover, under federal law, the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 provides protection from liability for volunteers for acts of ordinary negligence committed while volunteering for a nonprofit and acting within the scope of the organization’s mission. However, festivals are unpredictable environments and we cannot guarantee zero legal liability in the event a guest is harmed or injured while in the Zendo (in which case, a plaintiffs’ lawyers may choose to take civil action against the parties involved). Additionally, Zendo’s insurance policy may not cover volunteers who engaged in intentional misconduct, such as assault or other intentional harms.
Ensuring the Medical Safety of Guests
Zendo Project takes robust precautions with its medical and operational protocols to ensure the safety of its guests. All guests admitted to the Zendo are assessed by our medical triage team, who can promptly escalate to on-site medical providers, if needed. After the initial assessment of a guest by medical triage, volunteers should remain aware of their guests’ status at all times and alert medical triage and the Zendo supervisor if they observe the onset of any symptoms necessitating further medical assessment as outlined in the Zendo Project training manual.
Liability as it Relates to Professional Licensure
Zendo volunteers (such as medical and mental health professionals) do not operate under their professional licensure while providing peer support in the Zendo, which minimizes the level of risk to their credentials. It is also worth noting that no volunteer’s professional credentials have ever been impacted due to providing peer support/harm reduction services with Zendo Project.
Providing psychedelic peer support is highly rewarding, but it comes with great personal responsibility. As noted above, each volunteer should be prepared to accept a small level of legal risk when providing peer support in the Zendo. Volunteers are expected to operate with the utmost integrity and awareness while on shift. Zendo Project leadership is available on every shift, should you ever need additional support or guidance regarding concerns that may arise.