University of Southern Indiana

Emergency Action Protocol: USI Study Abroad and Faculty-Led Travel Programs

USI Study Abroad Risk Management Task Force

  • Provost
  • Associate Provost for Student Affairs
  • Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications
  • Assistant Provost, Center for International Programs
  • Travel Manager, Travel Services
  • Director, Risk Management and Safety
  • Director, Public Safety
  • Dean of Students

Responsibilities of the Risk Management Task Force

  • Address immediate action necessary to maintain security and health of program participants, faculty and staff.
  • Address issues of health, safety, academic concerns, financial aid, public relations and legal liability.
  • Identify additional appropriate steps to take abroad (e.g., addressing student reactions, creating written action plan, sending USI staff or faculty to program site, etc.).
  • Develop and help with an evacuation plan should one become necessary.
  • Designate an individual to assume responsibility for handling the situation at home campus and program site.
  • Develop a communication document to be utilized by all personnel involved.
  • Prepare a list of persons to be alerted.
  • Develop a daily communication plan.
  • Assess impact of the event once ended and document all actions taken in a written report.

Definition of an Emergency

  • Death of a participant or faculty member
  • Serious injury or illness that can be defined as one requiring hospitalization, or one that makes it impossible for the participant or faculty member to continue the program
  • Emotional or psychological condition requiring removal from the situation or professional attention
  • Being the victim of a serious crime (assault, rape, etc.)
  • Being accused of committing a crime
  • A situation - either in the U.S. or at a program site - arises that causes serious concern, i.e., a political uprising or a natural disaster, an act of war, or other event causing or threatening harm to program participants or faculty member
  • Sudden evacuation of a participant or faculty member in response to a stateside emergency
  • Travel Warning issued by the U.S. State Department specific to a country, region or world wide

Definition of a Perceived Emergency
Perceived emergency results from events that are not immediately threatening to the health or safety of program participants, faculty or staff, but which may be viewed as such by family and friends at home, or by the media. In many instances, a perceived emergency must be treated as a real emergency.

Decision Making in Times of Crisis
The University will be prepared for two alternatives: continuing the program at an alternative site or closing the program. In deciding whether to move or close a program and evacuate the participants, the physical safety of the participants must be the paramount issue. The decision to terminate a program or evacuate the participants will be made by the Study Abroad Risk Management Task Force, in consultation with the program director, who should have the best understanding of the local conditions.

In the event of a crisis at or near the location of the specific program site location, the program director should be prepared to report on the following:

  • The safety of the students
  • The geographic proximity of the program to the crisis
  • The impact of the crisis on the quality of life (availability of food, water, medical supplies, the protection of law and order)
  • The target of the unrest, if the crisis is political
  • The intensity of military presence in the area of the program
  • The continuance of classes or field experiences at local universities

The program director should contact the nearest U.S. Consulate to discuss the need for evacuation and any measures that the U.S. is taking to evacuate its citizens. University staff will also contact other institutions with programs in that vicinity to discuss what actions they are taking. The Provost and Associate Provost for Student Affairs will convene the Risk Management Task Force to decide the best course of action and make a decision about evacuation.

After the students have been evacuated to safety, the University will make academic and financial arrangements appropriate to the particular program at the time of its termination. Once a decision has been made to evacuate students, the University cannot be responsible for the safety of any student or staff member who refused to comply with the evacuation procedures arranged by the University.

Communicating in Case of an Emergency Abroad
The Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications, via the director of University Communications, in consultation with the Risk Management Task Force, will coordinate all information released externally by the University associated with the incident and respond to all requests for information by media personnel. Faculty directors and USI study abroad staff should not seek contact with the press, since difficulties may arise when more than one source releases information to the media.

The Associate Provost for Student Affairs (or designee) will contact the family of all students involved, officials and on-site coordinators.

Notification of Next of Kin in Case of Death Abroad
In the event of death, it is the responsibility of the Associate Provost for Student Affairs (or designee) to see that next of kin are appropriately and promptly notified. The appropriate embassy officials will take charge in the event of the death of a U.S. citizen abroad. In most cases, the next of kin are contacted directly by the representatives of the U.S. State Department or local authorities.

Recommended Course of Action in Case of an Emergency

Immediate Responsibilities of On-Site Program Director

  1. Attend to the immediate needs of participant or faculty member involved.
  2. Remove individual(s) from danger.
  3. Contact, as appropriate, local medical emergency officials, law enforcement officers, the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, on-site health and/or counseling provider to begin local action necessary to handle and resolve the situation.
  4. Contact USI Public Safety (812-465-1845). Public Safety will notify the Provost, Associate Provost for Student Affairs, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Assistant Provost for International Programs, Dean of Students and other USI units, as appropriate.

Immediate Responsibilities of USI Public Safety
Upon receiving a call from on-site faculty director concerning a serious injury, death or other emergency, USI Public Safety will:

  1. Begin a log of all calls and activities pertaining to the incident.
  2. Collect the following information from the on-site personnel:
    • Name, identity and location of caller;
    • Nature and brief description of emergency;
    • Location of emergency and its proximity to program participants, if not directly affected;
    • Identity of program participants involved, if applicable;
    • Contact information (phone and fax number, e-mail address) where caller can be reached; and
    • Any information previously released to the media.
  3. Verify calls have been placed to emergency response services, and will be placed to U.S. Embassy or Consulate if situation warrants.
  4. Instruct caller to call again after emergency response team or law enforcement have arrived, if applicable.
  5. Contact Provost, Associate Provost for Student Affairs, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications, Dean of Students and Assistant Provost for International Programs.

Immediate Responsibilities of USI Center for International Programs

  1. Notify Provost, Associate Provost for Student Affairs, Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications, and the Dean of Students of any statements already made to media. Refer press inquiries to Assistant Vice President for Marketing and Communications.
  2. Once important facts have been collected, the Center for International Programs will notify members of the Risk Management Task Force. Whenever possible, faculty with specialization in the affected region may also be included.
  3. Communicate with on-site director or coordinator, on-campus constituencies, parents and U.S. Health Insurance Provider, etc. throughout emergency.
  4. Contact and consult with other key USI administrators, such as the appropriate dean(s).
  5. Contact USI Risk Management for notification to the insurance broker and/or carrier within 48 hours of the incident.
  6. In event of emergency other than illness or isolated accident, call the U.S. Department of State Citizen's Emergency Center at 202-647-5225 for suggestions or assistance. Call U.S. offices of other institutions with students in the program location to compare information and to develop a common plan of action.
  7. Continue coordination throughout emergency and communicate with the parent/guardian throughout the emergency as appropriate.

Follow-up Procedures to Be Coordinated by USI Center for International Programs

  1. Ensure written accounts of incident are obtained as soon as possible from all witnesses and affected students, faculty and staff.
  2. Prepare detailed factual report, including preliminary recommendations without judgments, analysis or conclusions.
  3. Submit report to Study Abroad Risk Management Task Force.
  4. Convene follow-up meeting of Task Force to discuss distribution and dissemination of report and the need, if any, for further in-house or external review or investigation.
  5. Communicate any pertinent information to other USI programs, as appropriate.
  6. Assess effectiveness of these procedures and revise as appropriate.

Follow-up Procedures for Program Director

  1. Reassess and adjust planned activities for the program as necessary. Attempt to avoid subjecting students and staff to additional stress. Plan for ways to proceed. The program should be terminated only as a last resort.
  2. Stay in close communication with the Center for International Programs for instructions and/or input from Risk Management Task Force, and inform on-campus program staff of whereabouts and activities of the group.
  3. Assess physical and emotional needs of students and staff.
  4. Inform program sponsor if additional staff are needed on-site to carry out necessary arrangements, or to provide counseling to students.
  5. Ensure all affected local and U.S. authorities are consulted and kept informed.
  6. In the event of fatality, wait for legal authority (usually local) before moving the body. Make sure photographs are taken before body is removed. Photographs and preservation of evidence may be important in other situations involving criminal activity also.
  7. Document ALL activities.
  8. Collect written statements from students, faculty and staff as soon as possible following incident.

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