Annex 20 - International Travel Emergency

Objective

The objective of this annex is to define the actions and roles necessary to provide a coordinated emergency response by students, administration, faculty, support personnel, visitors and departments for Binghamton University during an emergency situation or disaster.  This plan provides personnel and departments with a general concept of potential emergency assignments following a Binghamton University sponsored international travel emergency.

Situational Overview

The Binghamton University international travel emergency response protocols are intended to safeguard the well-being of students, staff, and faculty and to protect the university’s interests abroad.  The procedures set forth within this document are to be followed by all individuals involved in official international travel in support of Binghamton University funded and/or sponsored programs.  These protocols are designed to effectively prepare for and rapidly respond to emergencies associated with international travel related to Binghamton University.

These protocols become effective in situations where students and employees become ill, suffer accidents, are the victims of crime, find themselves involved in potentially violent political situations, subject to terrorism, fail to return on time to programs at the end of weekends or other situation that the program leader considers a crisis or emergency situation.

Concept of the Operations

What is an Emergency?

An emergency is any circumstance that poses a genuine risk to, or that has already disturbed the safety and well-being of program participants.  Emergencies will include, though not be confined to, the following types of events and incidents:

    • Disappearance or kidnapping of a participant;
    • Criminal assaults against program participants;   
    • Sexual assault or rape;
    • Serious illness, physical or emotional, injury or death;
    • Hospitalization for any reason;
    • Arrest, incarceration, or deportation;
    • Terrorist threat or attack;
    • Local political crisis;
    • Natural disasters.

A "perceived emergency" results from events that are not immediately threatening to the health or safety of program students 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.

Emergency Contact Procedures

    1. Call the local emergency number in the country where you are located.  See the emergency contact sheet provided by your program director for this information.
    2. For student, faculty and staff emergencies, contact NYS University Police at Binghamton University at (607) 777-2222.  Collect calls are accepted.
    3. The University Police dispatcher will use collect relevant information, including a call-back number, and shall make notifications to appropriate Binghamton University personnel.
    4. The university’s Incident Management Team (IMT) may convene to determine the appropriate course of action based upon the size, scale and magnitude of the situation.

Preparing for Emergencies

Practical Safety

    • Always use the “buddy system.” Don’t go out alone.
    • Verify your ability to communicate by phone once overseas
    • Check road and traffic conditions multiple times each day prior to traveling.
    • Know the safest mode of transportation.
    • Avoid all demonstrations and large crowds.
    • Know what you can safely and legally eat and drink.
    • Follow Department of State travel warnings and alerts and pay attention to new warnings and alerts as they are issued.

Have an Emergency Plan

    • Know who to call - reference the Emergency Contact List (wallet card) and carry it with you at all times.
    • Know where to go (find a safe place once you arrive).
    • Let all of the other travelers know the plan.

What should the University do to prepare for emergencies abroad?

    • Provide annual training for study abroad directors.
    • Provide annual training for study abroad program leaders.
    • Provide annual training to campus emergency service dispatchers.
    • Review and validate all actions related to an evacuation from a study abroad location.
    • Require an initial risk management assessment of all college-sponsored activities taking place outside the U.S. and annual risk management assessments.

What should Program Directors do to prepare for emergencies?

Program Directors must ensure that all students complete all required documents prior to traveling.  The information will be accessible by Binghamton University administrators including the Provost's office, Risk Management, the Deans, the Vice-President for Student Affairs, the Director of Counseling, and University Police, as well as the Program Directors themselves.

The following items will be required as part of the application process:

    • A signed statement that the traveler(s) has received and understood the orientation materials, including the emergency response protocols.
    • Two emergency contact numbers (each) for the Program Director and the Assistant Program Director.
    • Copies of passports (and visas if appropriate) or passport numbers for all travelers.

Information on health and safety must be shared with all travelers:

  • Recommended language for inclusion in Global Education brochures and/or documents:
    • "Representatives from Binghamton University will be happy to discuss health care concerns you may have related to study abroad.  Because of the particular challenges, both mental and physical, that integration into a new culture and learning environment place on an individual, if you are currently receiving treatment for any chronic illness it is strongly recommended that you talk with your doctor about plans to manage your health condition abroad."
    • “This program includes activities that may involve using public transportation, negotiating stairs, taking long walks, and attending scheduled classes.  If you have any concerns about your ability to perform any of these activities or have other special needs or disability-related concerns, contact _______________________________________.”
    • Information on the university’s required study abroad health insurance with instructions on using the insurance abroad.
    • Post acceptance health form with specific questions about a student's health.
    • All programs should include medical evacuation, repatriation, and 24/7 assistance.  Binghamton University will identify an appropriate insurance provider and submit lists to the insurance company and to all program directors.
    • At a minimum, the following information should be provided to all students during the pre-departure and on-site orientation:
      • Consular Information Sheets and U.S. State Department Travel Warnings (if applicable).  If there is a Travel Advisory issued during a program, Binghamton University representatives will notify the director who will then notify the students of the change.
      • Emergency Contact Numbers for program directors and university officials to be provided to students and parents.
        • The emergency contacts will include:
          • Program Director or on-site coordinator in host country.  All Program Directors must have a cell phone that works in the host country - either a US or foreign number.  Directors must provide students, parents and university administrators with the complete number including the country and city code if using a local number in the host country.
          • University Police
          • Insurance provider’s 24/7 contact number(s).
          • Review of safety and security issues specific to the country.  Advise all travelers to avoid travel to or through any location where tensions exist and travel may be dangerous.
        • Procedures for a medical emergency:
          • Travelers should be informed that they are required to notify the program director about any medical emergency, and that the program director in turn is required to notify the Binghamton University Office of International Programs (OIP).  This information will be treated with the strictest confidentiality, and will be shared by the program director on a “need to know” basis only.  If the crisis involving the traveler is grave enough to jeopardize his or her safety or well being, the emergency contact he/she has provided at the time of registration will be informed.
        • Directors will submit to the Office of International Programs (OIP)a detailed written program itinerary with written instructions on how they can be contacted in an emergency.
        • For semester long programs, the director and/or students must register with the U.S. embassy or consulate in the host country or countries.  Where it is appropriate, this type of notification should be provided to the local authorities at the program site.
        • Prior to the arrival of the students on-site:
          • If the students in the group are to be housed with local families, inform the families that they are required to notify the on-site coordinator or director if there is an emergency involving a student.
          • If the students are housed in a residence system or rented house inform the local housing supervisor that he or she must notify the on-site coordinator if an emergency occurs.

What should students do to prepare for emergencies before traveling?

    1. Be familiar with all materials sent to you about your program, including the Consular Information Sheets on your host country and the Center for Disease Controls’ Travelers Information.
    2. Review and UNDERSTAND all emergency protocols and procedures.
    3. Know how to use the study abroad health insurance information and keep a copy of the card with you at all times along with the 24/7 assistance phone number.
    4. Make multiple copies of your passport.  Leave one copy with your family and bring a spare copy with you on your trip and keep it separately from your passport.  While you are traveling, protect your passport.  Use a money belt or neck pouch.
    5. Keep the Program Director's and the Binghamton University emergency numbers with you at all times.
    6. If you use a smartphone or laptop, ensure you have both set up requiring password access.
    7. Learn as much as you can about your country before you go.
    8. Register with the U.S. Embassy, https://travelregistration.state.gov/ibrs/ui/.
    9. Develop with your family, a plan for telephone or e-mail contact, so that in case of an emergency, you will be able to communicate with your parents directly about your safety and well being.
    10. Familiarize yourself with local laws and customs of the countries to which you are traveling.  Remember, while in a foreign country, you are subject to their laws.  This will help keep you out of unintended or difficult situations.
    11. Bring a credit card or make sure to have access to additional funds in case of an emergency.  Test your ability to use the card once on-site at your study abroad location.

In Case of An Emergency

For the Program Director

    1. In an emergency, the director’s first responsibility is to provide for the safety and well being of program participants.  The director should do whatever is necessary to assure this, whether this means obtaining prompt and appropriate medical attention, Embassy intervention, police protection or even emergency extraction of personnel.
    2. When all has been done to assure the participants' well being, the director should contact NYS University Police at Binghamton University and brief the dispatcher in detail about the situation.  The Director of Emergency Management or designee will then contact additional Binghamton University personnel for further action on the emergency.
    3. The Director of Emergency Management shall ensure that all dispatchers have the information and training needed to respond to emergency calls related to Binghamton University international programs.
    4. In an emergency, the Program Director should urge participants to contact parents as soon as possible to advise them of their personal situation.  Wherever necessary, the director must facilitate such contact.
    5. As necessary, the Program Director should notify the local U.S. Embassy or Consulate about the crisis, and follow whatever procedures they may require.  If there is a continuing risk to the welfare of the students (during a terrorist threat, for example), the director should ask the appropriate Embassy or Consular Official to advise him/her on a regular basis about the evolution of the crisis, and about how the students should respond.
    6. Regularly scheduled situational updates should occur involving key personnel at Binghamton University.  These updates may occur in-person or via conference call.
    7. During a medical emergency, the Program Director or appropriate designee should accompany the student to an appropriate health care provider.  No private medical details should be shared unless the participant grants permission.  If a medical emergency is critical and parents should be informed, the Program Director shall immediately notify University Police.  Campus officials shall make contact with the parents.
    8. During an on-going crisis, the director should keep Binghamton University officials informed on a regular basis, daily or as need dictates.
    9. Depending on the acuteness of the crisis, the Binghamton University Incident Management Team (IMT) may be assembled to decide on a course of action that the Program Director and students need to follow.
    10. During a political crisis or some other emergency during which foreigners in general or U.S. citizens in particular may be at risk, the Program Director should tell the students to keep a low profile; tell them to avoid demonstrations, confrontations or situations where they could be in danger; avoid behavior that could call attention to themselves; avoid locales where foreigners or U.S. Americans are known to congregate; and take down signs, avoid using luggage tags and wearing clothes that would label them as U.S. citizens.
    11. Students should realize that their use of social media is easily monitored.
    12. In the event of a significant crisis, students have the option of returning to the U.S.  Every reasonable effort will be made to allow them to continue their academic program on campus, and to be housed appropriately as well.
    13. Faculty members and students will be evacuated or sent home if a situation deteriorates to the point where the degree of risk to participants is deemed unacceptable.  If this unlikely event were to happen, the IMT, in consultation with the Program Director, the insurance provider, the U.S. Embassy and State Department, and appropriate individuals on the home campus, would develop an evacuation plan in as much detail as possible.

For the Student

    1. If there is an emergency, you should immediately contact the Program Director.  His/her responsibility is to make sure that you are safe.  The director will be in touch with Binghamton University and will recommend appropriate steps depending on the situation.  Follow the director's instructions.
    2. During a political crisis or some other emergency during which foreigners in general or U.S. citizens in particular may be at risk, keep a low profile; avoid demonstrations, confrontations or situations where you could be in danger; avoid behavior that could call attention to yourself; avoid locales where foreigners or U.S. Americans are known to congregate; and take down signs, avoid using luggage tags and wearing clothes that would label you as an U.S. citizen.

For Binghamton University Staff

Upon receiving a notification of an international travel incident involving a serious injury, death, or emergency, University Police will:

    • Immediately begin a log of all calls and activities.
    • Get the following information from the director:
      • Name of caller and of victim(s), if any
      • Brief description of accident, injuries, and/or emergency, the steps that have been taken and the status.
      • Location of caller- street, city, country
      • Location of accident or emergency.  How close is it to students and staff?
      • Phone, cell phone, fax, or beeper number where caller is
      • Find out if rescue squad, local law enforcement, U.S. embassy/consulate have been called if appropriate?
      • Has any information been released to the media?

If an emergency, real or perceived, occurred, ask for detailed answers to these questions:

    • What impact, if any, did any emergency have on availability of food, water, and medical supplies?
    • What was the target of unrest, if the event was political?
    • What is the intensity of the emergency or of the political unrest?
    • Are there military or emergency personnel at the site of the emergency?
    • Is continuation of classes feasible?
    • How able are our students and staff to travel in the country?
    • What is the advice of the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate?

University Police will contact all appropriate Binghamton University officials with the above information.

DO NOT MAKE ANY STATEMENT TO THE PRESS.  Notify the office of Communications and Marketing of any statements made to the media by the Program Director.  Refer inquires to the office of Communications and Marketing and record all calls and activities.

If an emergency has occurred, call the U.S. Department of State Citizen Emergency Center at 1-888-407-4747 (from overseas: 202-501-4444) for suggestions or assistance.

Role of U.S. Embassy / Consulate

A U.S. Embassy / Consulate can:

    • Provide a list of attorneys who speak English if you require legal assistance.
    • Assist in contacting your family in the U.S.
    • Help you obtain money from your family in the U.S.
    • Monitor your health and welfare if you are in a hospital or in jail.
    • If you are a victim of a crime, the embassy and/or consulate can:
      • replace a stolen passport;
      • contact family friends, or employers;
      • help you obtain appropriate medical care;
      • provide information about the local criminal justice process and the case itself.

A U.S. Embassy or Consulate cannot:

      • Demand the immediate release of a U.S. citizen arrested abroad or cause a citizen to be released.
      • Represent a U.S. citizen at trial, give legal advice, or pay legal fees and/or fines with U.S. government funds.

International Law And Arrests

When you are in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws.  If you are arrested, immediately ask to speak to a consular officer at the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate.  Under international agreements, the U.S. government has a right to provide consular assistance to you upon your request.

Medical Emergencies

SITUATION

TASKS

Traveler needs immediate medical attention (e.g. serious car accident)

Call local emergency number for emergency response, if possible.  Alternatively, notify the Program Director and for serious injuries, notify NYS University Police at (607) 777- 2222.

If you haven’t done so already, report the incident to Binghamton University as soon as possible.

Traveler needs to be seen by a healthcare provider (e.g. persistent high fever)

If a local treatment is needed, call your insurance provider for the name of the nearest clinic that provides care by English speakers.

NOTE: Report the incident to Binghamton University if you think the situation may worsen.

Traveler should self-treat problem (e.g. infection, stomach problem, etc.)

During the pre-trip orientation in the U.S., advise students to bring medications from home to treat common problems, or instruct students how to access these resources once abroad.

Suggest to the traveler that he/she consult on-line health resources such as the CDC website.

 

Mental Health Emergencies

                  SITUATION

TASKS

Traveler needs immediate medical attention (e.g. suicide attempt)

Call local emergency number for emergency response, if possible.  Alternatively, notify the Program Director and for serious injuries, notify NYS University Police at (607) 777- 2222.

If you haven’t done so already, report the incident to Binghamton University as soon as possible.

Traveler needs to be seen by a healthcare provider (e.g. serious ongoing depression)

Call Binghamton University to consult.  Be prepared to answer consultation questions about the student’s behavior

If a local consult is needed, call your insurance provider for the name of the nearest clinic that provides a consultation by English speakers.

Continue to monitor and follow plan developed with Binghamton University resources.

Program director should monitor the traveler’s behavior (e.g. homesickness, culture shock, etc.)

Talk with the traveler to determine what is causing the behavior you have seen.  Review “Suggestions for Management Difficult Conversations”.

Monitor the situation.  Review “When to Contact Binghamton University about a traveler’s behavior”

  

Recognizing and assisting students in distress

Faculty or staff members may often have close, ongoing relationships with students.  When traveling abroad, the role of the instructor and course director may require more intensive involvement in helping the students.  As a result, the faculty / staff member might sometimes learn that a student feels overwhelmed or seems in distress.  In this special role, it can be hard to be the main source of support for a student.  It is important for the faculty / staff member to know his/her own limitations in providing assistance and to understand when to seek more intensive help.

When you are concerned about the health, welfare, or safety of a student you should always call NYS University Police at (607) 777-2222 to discuss the situation.  Once they are aware of the circumstances, they may call on colleagues in the Counseling Center or other offices that can provide support.

Not sure if you should call to consult? Look for these signs of distress...

Academic Problems: drop in grades, difficulty concentrating, missed assignments, un- organized or erratic performance, continual seeking of special accommodations (e.g., extensions), essays of creative work that indicate extremes of hopelessness, social isolation, rage or despair, inability to make decisions despite your repeated efforts to clarify or encourage.

Concerning Behaviors: tearfulness, agitation or anger, expression of worthlessness or hopelessness, expression of concern by other classmates, direct statements indicating distress, statements suggesting family problems, acting more withdrawn or significantly more animated than usual, self-injurious behaviors (cutting self, hiding cuts), bizarre behavior that is obviously inappropriate for the situation (e.g., talking to something / someone that is not present).

Physical Signs: deteriorations in physical appearance, visible changes in weight, lack of personal hygiene, impaired speech and disjointed thoughts, coming to class hung-over or smelling of alcohol, listlessness, lack of energy, frequently falling asleep in class.

Statements suggesting suicidal feelings: Any written note or verbal statement that has a sense of finality or mentions suicide, statements that are threatening or indicate they “are going away for a long time”, “jokes” about wanting to die, essays or papers that focus on despair, suicide or death.

What to do with a potentially suicidal student: Students who talk about suicide or seem depressed should be asked directly about their intentions (e.g., “have you been having thoughts about ending your life?”). Do not ignore a student who talks about “not wanting to be around” or avoid asking questions out of fear you might give them ideas about killing themselves. Most people who are suicidal will answer these questions.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse: Coming to class or a meeting when intoxicated or high is a sign that drug and/or alcohol abuse may be a serious problem.  This can place a person at higher risk of harm to self or others.

If you are unsure about whether or how to intervene with a student who appears to be distressed, ask yourself the following questions:

    • Is this student’s behavior distressingly out of the ordinary?
    • Is this beyond my skill level?
    • Is the behavior getting worse?
    • Does the behavior place anyone at (immediate) risk?
    • Am I feeling like I want to talk with someone about my observations and concerns?

Who to call for assistance?

If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, it is time to consult with colleagues at the University.  Call NYS University Police at (607) 777-2222 for assistance.

If you feel you or someone else is in immediate danger, call local police.  If you have questions or would like to discuss a specific situation, please call NYS University Police at (607) 777-2222.  They will help you determine the best course of action and may refer you to other resources for assistance.

Suggestions for managing difficult conversations

    1. Ask to talk with the student in a private setting, but not in your personal living quarters.  Avoid the phrase, “We need to talk.”  The listener often takes these as fighting words.  Although your concerns may be serious, the conversation will likely go more smoothly if you can put the other person at some ease rather than raising her/his anxiety.
    2. Be as concrete and specific as possible.  Avoid speaking in vague generalities (i.e., “I’m wondering how you like the program so far...”) or evaluative terms (i.e., “You seem unhappy...”).  Use only enough words to capture the issue.  If you go on and on, you’ll come across as lecturing or scolding, which can trigger defensiveness.  Consider using openings such as:
      • “I want to bring up the Code of Conduct that you signed before leaving and talk with you about some concerns I have about your behavior.”
      • “I’m interested in hearing your perspective about (describe behavior), and I want to make sure you understand mine.”
      • “I’d like to see if we might accomplish a better understanding regarding (describe situation).”
      • “Maybe I’m reading too much into the situation, but it seems like (describe situation).”
      • “I need your help with (describe what just happened) because I want to understand it from your point of view.”
      • “Let’s try to figure out why you and I see (describe situation) so differently.”
      • “I’ve received reports from other students that (describe reports) and I want to understand the situation from your perspective.”
    3. Allow the student to speak freely without interruption.  Listen carefully.  You may come to learn a lot that you weren’t aware of.
    4. Tell the student what changes you’d like to see in the future:
      • “What I suggest is...,” “How about if we try...,” “My proposed solution is...”
    5. Ask for a response from the student:
        • “Does this make sense to you?”Do you agree/what do you think?To be sure I was clear, will you please describe what the changes are that Im asking for?
        • Take down notes following the meeting for reference.

Violations of the Student Code of Conduct

SITUATION

TASKS

Take immediate action to reach local authorities (e.g. behavior is danger to self or others)

Call local emergency number for emergency response, if possible.  Alternatively, notify the Program Director and for serious injuries, notify NYS University Police at (607) 777- 2222.

If you haven’t done so already, report the incident to Binghamton University as soon as possible.

Binghamton University disciplinary process may be an appropriate option (e.g. violations of Code of Conduct)

Call Binghamton University to consult.  Be prepared to answer “Consultation Questions About Student Behavior”.

If recommended by Binghamton University resources, meet with student to conduct first step of disciplinary process, an “informal hearing”.  Review “Suggestions for Managing Difficult Conversations”.

Continue to monitor and follow plan developed with Binghamton University resources.

Speak with student immediately about your conduct concerns (e.g. roommate problems, attendance issues, etc.)

Meet with student at the earliest sign of concern about conduct.   Review “Suggestions for Managing Difficult Conversations”.

Monitor the situation.  Review “When to Contact Binghamton University about a traveler’s behavior”

 

Consultation questions about student behavior

When you consult with Binghamton University resources, you will be asked about the student’s behavior.  To make consultation most effective, consider the following questions in advance of your call:

    • What did the student do?
    • What did the student say?
    • Who observed these behaviors or witnessed these statements?
    • What effect does the student’s behavior appear to be having on other students, faculty, or staff?
    • Have you tried to talk directly with the student and, if so, what outcomes emerged from that conversation?

Sexual Assault

You may hear about an assault from the student directly or from others in the program that have come to know about an incident.  The student needs to feel in charge of what happens after an assault.  The best way for you to help is to:

    • Be supportive
    • Offer options
    • Let the student decide on a course of action

Your Responsibilities: Immediate

    • Contact NYS University Police at (607) 777-2222 to report the assault to Binghamton University officials.  Students should be made aware that you will consult with your relevant colleagues on campus to insure our students are protected and have access to counseling, legal processes and support.
    • Binghamton University will also notify the U.S. embassy (without revealing the student’s name) and inquire about procedures to file criminal charges.  A representative from Binghamton University will communicate this information to you.  You should discuss the options with the student.
    • Offer to help the student seek medical care.  Binghamton University Office of International Programs can help determine if there are other concerns based on your location.  Medical treatment should include an exam by a qualified local health provider, blood tests and screening for sexually transmitted diseases and HIV.  The student should be treated for any physical injuries that may have been sustained.  A female student who has been assaulted should also be offered a prescription to prevent pregnancy.  To be effective, a “morning after”-type prescription needs to be taken within three days of the assault.  The health care provider may also recommend that the student take a course of anti-HIV drugs.
    • Be non-judgmental. Things you can say:
      • “Thank you for telling me.”
      • “I’m sorry this has happened to you.”
      • “What can I do to help?”
      • “It takes a lot of courage and strength to come forward and I’m glad you did.”
      • Let the student know that he / she may have the option to return to the U.S.

Your Responsibilities: Ongoing

    • Do not discuss the situation with other students.  Maintain the student’s confidentiality.
    • Continue to monitor the student’s well being as you would with any health or medical concern.
    • Periodically revisit the student’s options (which may include returning to the U.S.).
    • Consult with Binghamton University resources if you have additional concerns about a student’s welfare (i.e., mental or physical health issues).
    • Contact Binghamton University or the U.S. embassy to locate the nearest health care facility that can provide treatment.
    • The option of returning to the U.S. may need to be considered by the student if:
    • The recommendation is to take anti-HIV drugs but such medication is not available in- country.  The student feels psychologically unable to stay in the country or counseling services are needed and not available locally.
    • If the physical and/or mental trauma is significant, medical evacuation to the U.S. may be an option for the student.
    • Binghamton University Office of International Programs can contact the travel assistance provider (e.g., insurance provider) to consult on a medical evacuation, if indicated.

Counseling Support

    • The Binghamton University Counseling Center may reach out to the student by email when a report is made to university officials.  The Counseling Center is a confidential and safe starting point for those affected by sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking, by providing resources, support and advocacy for students. The Counseling Center can help with safety planning, Conduct Code complaints, academic and other issues.
    • Thank the student for telling you.  Assure them that you are here to help.  If a student wants to remain anonymous, let them know that this is not necessarily possible, but that Binghamton University officials would only be involved as needed.

Filing Criminal Charges In-Country

    • NYS University Police can provide consultation to the program director and student as the student decides whether or not to file charges.
    • Charges against the assailant cannot be filed with the NYS University Police or any other U.S. police agency, for an assault that happened outside of the U.S.

Filing a Complaint with Binghamton University

    • If the alleged perpetrator is also a Binghamton University student, the victim may file a report under the Student Conduct Code.  University Police, the Office of International Programs, the Dean of Students and the Vice President for Student Affairs can assist the student in reporting the incident to Binghamton University officials.

Last Updated: 2/8/16