Crisis Management Guidelines

Identifying the Situation

Incident – Any event which has implications for safety and liability.

Emergency – Any event that may require an urgent response on the part of the organization, but which is manageable by the organization’s resources and does not threaten the organization’s ability to operate.

Crisis – Any event that is a turning point for an organization. A crisis may overwhelm the organization’s available staff/resources and impact an organization’s ability to operate.

When a crisis does occur, the on-site program faculty or staff should contact their study abroad program manager and brief them on the current circumstances. The study abroad office program manager will then identify and determine whom to communicate this information to next. Take meticulous notes recording the entire incident and keep an event log of what takes place after the situation is initially reported.

Types of Crises or Critical Incidents

Real emergency: A genuine or imminent risk to participants or a disturbance that has occurred.


  • Serious physical/emotional illness or accident
  • Trauma or physical assault
  • Missing student for unknown reasons
  • Death of a student or other program member
  • Political coup or civil unrest
  • Natural disaster
  • Terrorism
  • Incarceration
  • Kidnapping
  • Pandemic

Perceived emergency: No immediate significant risk, but perceived as threatening by student, family, university officials or others.


  • Sensationalized media reporting of overseas event
  • Distortion of information provided by a participant
  • Anxiety of family member or others with little or no international experience

NOTE: Perceived emergencies can affect students, family members and staff as strongly as real emergencies. These need to be treated seriously and responses should be made in a timely manner.

Critical Incident: Situations involving threats of harm to students, faculty, or facilities. In addition, academic or conduct violation, disruption of group, and potentially dangerous situations are considered critical incidents.


  • Tardiness
  • Missing class or group functions
  • Drug/alcohol misuse; belligerence
  • Cultural inappropriateness
  • Sexual harassment
  • Questionable facilities or transportation
  • Academic misconduct, cheating, plagiarism, copyright violations

Crisis/Emergency Response Plan

This section is intended to provide recommendations for general procedures to be followed in the case of a crisis.

*Each incident will vary and may require the use of only a portion of the recommended action or may require steps that are not included.

Roles and Responsibilities for Staff: Crisis Response

On-Site Faculty/Staff:

**Contact your study abroad program manager.

When giving the crisis information to your immediate supervisor remember the following details:

  • Fully identify the type of emergency and all related information. Evaluate your initial response needs (emergency medical attention, police report, contact next of kin required).
  • State who is directly affected by the emergency.
  • What you have done to intervene directly with the student/staff affected.
  • What is your immediate need and how can the home institution staff help. (fac/staff replacement, transportation out of the area, contact affected family members, etc.)

** If your program manager cannot be contacted and it is warranted, immediately contact the Study Abroad Director, Dean of Students, or other emergency contacts, listed on your Emergency Contact information document, to make a report or ask for assistance.

Guiding Principles for Any Emergency Procedures:

  • Prevent life threatening situations.
  • Provide a climate of safety.
  • Maintain confidentiality where important.
  • Defuse threat if possible and ensure health and welfare of participants.
  • Maintain communication with appropriate personnel.

Principia Study Abroad Office:

Serve as first line of communication from the on-site program faculty, staff, or student.

The study abroad program manager will begin a careful process of gathering and, if warranted, reporting information immediately to the Study Abroad Director which includes the following information:

  • Describe the imminent risk
  • Describe status of affected participant(s) (location, physical condition, etc.)
  • Describe what monitoring/assistance affected participant(s) is receiving
  • Describe what impact this incident has on the entire group/program
  • Report on others who may have already been notified of the incident (students, parents, onsite staff, media, etc.)
  • Describe urgent need or expected response.

Study Abroad Director (or other Direct Administrative Supervisor):

  • Gather information from all sources for making appropriate decisions about the management of the emergency.
  • Coordinate with Principia Director of Campus Safety in the management of an emergency involving insurance.
  • Coordinate with other administrative stakeholders (Deans, President, etc.).
  • Determine if additional off-campus resources are needed—or are needed to “stand by”—to effectively manage the crisis and notify them if appropriate.
  • Stay in contact with the leaders of the emergency service agencies and the law enforcement agencies working with the emergency.
  • Serve as a clearinghouse of information for family and effective person(s) emergency contact(s).
  • Make assignments to resources (persons and offices) for specific response needs.

Considerations in response actions/decisions:

  • On-site assessment of the situation
  • Determination of real or perceived risk
  • Reliability/accuracy of information
  • Health and welfare of participants
  • On-site host involvement and considerations
  • Academic credit and consequences
  • Principia services that will be impacted (faculty, counseling, legal, PR)
  • Family involvement and recommendation
  • Available on-site contingency plans
  • Evacuation feasibility
  • Implications of return to U.S.
  • Refund policy of the program
  • Reimbursement, accountability, compensation for damage, legal issues, hospitalization, transportation to the hospital and/or airport
  • News media
  • Institution (Principia) responsibility


  • On-site staff complete an Incident Report and submit to the Study Abroad Office. Study Abroad Office follows Incident Reporting Procedure.
  • Study Abroad Office initiates evaluation of specific event and the efficacy of the action steps with those involved and recommend modifications as needed.

Critical Incident Evaluation and Response

Mental Health: Student exhibits behaviors symptomatic of mental illness with sufficient severity to cause concern or is disruptive to others. Examples:

  • Student threatens, attempts, and/or acknowledges ideation of homicide or suicide;
  • Student is unable to participate in class or group activities;
  • Behavior causes other participants to fear his/her actions

Information to Gather

  • Description of student behavior (continuing or single incident)
  • Description of discussion with student about behavior
  • Discuss nature of concern
  • Ask what the issue may be
  • Determine if student is risk to self or others
  • Response to the request that student voluntarily talk to a support staff
  • Determine the student’s support network
  • Obtain input/observations from others who have been interacting with the student

Action if Necessary

  • Begin an event log: gather background information and report crisis developments and responses. Focus on behavior; do not add personal comments.
  • Ensure student is monitored and not left alone.
  • Notify the Study Abroad Office.
  • Collaborate with Office of Student Life, Dean of Students.
  • Encourage student to be in contact with a Christian Science practitioner, family member or other support network.
  • If student will not voluntarily seek/receive support (and does NOT appear to be an immediate threat to self or others), clearly state behavioral expectations, keep a log of all communications with student and related incidents, and continue encouragement to seek assistance.
  • If disruptive behavior persists, contact the Study Abroad Office for consultation on next steps, which may include student dismissal.


  • Complete an Incident Report and submit to the Study Abroad Office.
  • Evaluate the efficacy of the action steps with those involved and recommend modifications as needed.

Student Misconduct: Student behavior that results in sufficient disruption to the educational process such that disciplinary action is warranted.

Students may be issued a probationary warning or dismissed from an education abroad; the choice should be determined in consultation with the Study Abroad Office. This is intended to be an interim solution to deal with an urgent situation and does not necessarily impact overall student status.

Principia’s policies, procedures and due process for suspension must be considered in any such action.


  • Missing class or group activities;
  • Substance or alcohol use;
  • Violence;
  • Inappropriate and/or culturally insensitive behavior, and/or abusive physical or verbal behavior

Action if Necessary

  • Begin an event log: gather background information and report developments and responses.
  • Discuss issue with student by explaining how actions/behaviors are incompatible with success of program.
  • If circumstances permit, the student can receive disciplinary probation and/or exclusion from the program.

If possible, the warning will be issued with another program staff or faculty member present and signed and dated by the student and program director.

A warning should include:

  • Written document of warning
  • Description of behavior that warrants dismissal or correction
  • Clear expectation that misconduct is not to reoccur
  • Clear indication of probationary status action to take place if student is dismissed (no academic credit, financial cost borne by student, escort to airport, etc.)
  • The student may decide to terminate the program and return home at own expense

Depending on the severity of issue, student may be dismissed without a probationary warning although it is necessary that program fac/staff communicate and coordinate with the Study Abroad Office before taking such action.


  • Complete an Incident Report and submit to the Study Abroad Office.
  • Evaluate the efficacy of the action steps with those involved and recommend modifications as needed.

Resources for Emergency Response

Insurance: coverage for all Principia study abroad participants

  • Individual Policy:
    Every student, faculty, and staff member participating in a Principia study abroad program is provided with an individual insurance policy and required to carry their insurance card in-country. It is expected that this insurance policy supplements personal insurance and provides coverage for the cost of accidents, sickness, and travel-related mishaps while on education abroad programs. The insurance coverage includes medical expenses, sickness and hospital benefit, emergency medical transport, repatriation of remains, accidental death & dismemberment, travel and/or baggage delays, travel documentation replacement, and 24-hour assistance services.
  • Group Policy (Principia Corporation):
    Every student, faculty, and staff member participating in a Principia study abroad program is included on Principia’s corporate group international insurance policy. It is expected that this insurance policy supplements personal insurance and provides coverage for the cost of accidents, sickness, and travel-related mishaps while on education abroad programs. Principia’s policy is facilitated through the Director of Campus Safety: David Pate, (314) 514-3190.

Drum Cussac: Holistic Risk & Safety Assessment System

Principia Study Abroad retains contract with Drum Cussac to utilize their GlobalRiskManager, a holistic security solution which knits everything together in one place for complete security risk assessment. Services provided include live alerts, intelligence, pre-travel country specific information, and response and crisis assessment and mitigation advice.

State Department Warnings and Alerts

The U.S. State Department issues current travel warnings, travel alerts, and country-specific information on its web site:

All Principia Study Abroad program participants are registered through the U.S. Government STEP (Safe Traveler Enrollment Program).

Travel Warnings (as well as Country Specific Information) are issued when the State Department recommends that Americans avoid travel to a certain country.

Travel Alerts disseminate information about terrorist threats and other relatively short-term and/or transnational conditions posing significant risks to the security of American travelers. Travel Alerts are made when there is a specific threat that cannot be countered. In the past, Travel Alerts have been issued to deal with short-term coups, violence by terrorists, and anniversary dates of specific terrorist events.

It is the policy of the Principia Study Abroad Office that if a travel alert or warning is issued for the area or region in which the education abroad program has been granted approval, permission to travel must be reassessed by the Study Abroad Director.

Country Specific Information available for every country of the world, includes such information as location of the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in the subject country, unusual immigration practices, health conditions, minor political disturbances, unusual currency and entry regulations, crime and security information, and drug penalties. If an unstable condition exists in a country that is not severe enough to warrant a Travel Warning, a description of the condition(s) may be included under an optional section entitled “Safety/Security.” Country Specific Information presents information in a factual manner so decisions concerning travel to a particular country can be made in the absence of a warning or alert.

American Consulate Emergency Services

  • Replace a Passport – If someone loses a passport, a consulate office can issue a replacement, often within 24 hours. If you believe a passport has been stolen, first report the theft to the local police and get a police declaration/report.
  • Medical Assistance – If someone is sick, you can contact a consular officer for a list of local doctors, dentists, and medical specialists, along with other medical information. If someone is injured or becomes seriously ill, a consul will help you find medical assistance and inform family or friends.
  • Help Get Funds – Should someone lose all his/her money and other financial resources, consular officers can help contact family, bank, or employer to arrange for them to send emergency funds. In some cases, these funds can be wired to you through the Department of State.
  • Help in An Emergency – Family members may need to reach you because of an emergency at home or because they are worried about their student’s welfare. They should call the State Department’s Overseas Citizens Services at (202) 647-5225. The State Department will relay the message to the consular officers in the country in which you are traveling. Consular officers will attempt to locate you, pass on urgent messages, and, consistent with the Privacy Act, report back to your family.
  • Visit in Jail – If someone is arrested, you should ask the authorities to notify a U.S. consul. Consuls cannot get you out of jail (when you are in a foreign country, you are subject to its laws). However, they can work to protect legitimate interests and ensure you are not discriminated against. They can provide a list of local attorneys, visit you, inform you generally about local laws, and contact your family and friends. Consular officers can transfer money, food, and clothing to the prison authorities from your family or friends. They can try to get relief if you are held under inhumane or unhealthful conditions.
  • Make Arrangements after the Death of An American – When an American dies abroad, a consular officer notifies the American’s family and informs them about options and costs for disposition of remains. Costs for preparing and returning a body to the U.S. may be high and must be paid by the family. Often, local laws and procedures make returning a body to the U.S. for burial a lengthy process. A consul prepares a Report of Death based on the local death certificate; this is forwarded to the next of kin for use in estate and insurance matters.
  • Help in A Disaster/Evacuation – If you are caught up in a natural disaster or civil disturbance, you should let your relatives know as soon as possible that you are safe, or contact a U.S. consul who will pass that message to your family through the State Department. Be resourceful. U.S. officials will do everything they can to contact you and advise you. However, they must give priority to helping Americans who have been hurt or are in immediate danger. In a disaster, consuls face the same constraints you do—lack of electricity or fuel, interrupted phone lines, closed airports.

A consular officer cannot: Demand immediate release of a U.S. citizen arrested abroad or otherwise cause the 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.